BREAKING: Illinois Overhauls Mental Health Care And 9-1-1 Policy, What Does It Mean For You?
BREAKING NEWS: Illinois Governor JB Pritzker signed into law today sweeping new programs to overhaul the state’s mental health care system, including groundbreaking new laws regarding sending mental health professionals to 9-1-1 and 9-8-8 calls.
Under the new law, the Community Emergency Services And Support Act, Illinois is just the third state in the nation to now require
insurance to cover mental health disorders and substance abuse issues. It also requires officials receiving 9-1-1 and 9-8-8 calls involving mental health issues to include not just a police response but response from a mental health professional in addition or in lieu of the law enforcement response.
“The Community Emergency Services and Support Act, requires all Illinois municipalities to coordinate 9-1-1 and 9-8-8 services with the goal of prioritizing community care over incarceration or improper use of force when it comes to mental health or behavioral emergencies. In other words, it mandates compassion,” Pritzker said. “Mental health care is health care. That’s a vital component of a comprehensive and compassionate healthcare system, and that is what Illinois is now providing.
“I’m so proud of the steps we’ve taken to expand resources to mental health care,” said Pritzker during the press conference this afternoon, after which he signed the bills live on camera. “The covid pandemic has exacerbated that urgency, with more than half of Illinoisans
reporting a decline in mental wellness over the past year. From students not able to see their classmates, to first responders, to parents balancing work and family to seniors unable to see their loved ones, the mental health crisis is real and one which must be addressed.
“Despite this, the healthcare system often doesn’t treat mental health the same as other healthcare issues,” Pritzker said. “Today I’m proud to be a part of changes which will help all Illinois residents with those healthcare needs. Just like physical, mental healthcare is essential, not optional.”
Illinois is third state in the nation to require insurance to cover substance abuse and mental health disorders, behind California and New York.
“I’m a little overcome today, by what we’re accomplishing, and I’m so grateful to my colleagues
and Governor Pritzker for making this possible,” said State Representative Kelly Cassidy, one of the sponsors of the bill. “Today, Illinois once again leads the nation in enacting this law to help people with mental health care.”
“I’m thrilled we in Illinois are putting mental health at the forefront,” said State Senator Laura Fine, one of the sponsors of the bill. “This law will create positive outcomes for so many families in the state of Illinois. We are supporting all of our friends and loved ones because no family escapes mental illness. This will increase care for substance abuse and mental health when its need is at its greatest. This puts strong standards on the guidance when it comes to covering treatment for people with mental health issues.”
“The bill requires that a mental health call will get a response from a mental health professional, and not just a law enforcement response,” said State Senator Robert Peters, one of the sponsors of the bill. “Public safety requires mental health responders. We cannot handcuff our way out of trauma.”
“Now more than ever we need to require that public safety for all requires a humane and compassionate approach to trauma,” Pritzker added. “Illinois is leading the way in moving us forward in public safety, with an agenda that puts working people first. We should be proud that Illinois is leading the way.”
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