The prospect of cutting $90 million from Illinois' mental health funding drove members of The Chicago School of Professional Psychology community to both Chicago and Springfield, Ill. May 5 to attend rallies and stress the importance of mental health treatment.
Six students and Dr. Meghan Butler, post-doctoral fellow in the Office of Community Partnerships, made a six-hour round trip to Springfield to deliver information packets to their legislators, attend a rally, and voice their support for funding mental health services.
In Chicago, students, faculty and staff joined about 600 people protesting cuts in front of the State of Illinois building.
Megan Reese, from left, Christine Collins, Akanksha Dutt, Amanda Morris, Amrita Uttamchandani, Patricia McAtee and Dr. Meghan Butler in the Capitol Building in Springfield, Ill.
"Community mental health centers provide effective treatment that's also cost-effective. If these cuts go through, people who need mental health treatment will end up in emergency rooms, nursing homes and jails and end up costing the state more money," said Dr. Carroll Cradock, president of TCSPP's Chicago Campus.
Gov. Pat Quinn's proposed state budget would eliminate basic mental health services for 72,000 individuals, including 4,200 children, according to the Illinois Department of Human Services, Division of Mental Health. The state is in a severe budget crisis.
The budget proposal cuts mental health spending 24 percent from the previous year.
Among the various human services provided by the state, the cuts would disproportionately affect mental health providers. Mental health cuts could reach as high as 40 percent, because they would trigger a loss in federal funding, while the state is cutting only 5 percent in other human services fields, said Lora Thomas, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Illinois.
Speakers at the rally warned the cuts would lead to waiting lists of six to eight months at state-funded mental health agencies.
"Citizens can find their legislators by visiting www.elections.il.gov
and clicking on "information for voters," said Thomas. She also recommended that if people want to receive legislative updates on this issue, they can send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
requesting action alerts.
TCSPP's Butler said the six students who traveled to Springfield became interested in how government affects the mental health field. They include Amanda Morris, Patricia McAtee and Christine Collins of the MACC program, Megan Reese of the Forensic Psychology program, and Amrita Uttamchandani and Akanksha Dutt of the Clinical Psy.D. program.
Members of the TCSPP community attend the rally in Chicago.