Mental Health

Local Issues Director: Lois Walter, The League of Women Voters of Glen Ellyn

Our chapter of the League follows major issues of interest to our membership; each area is the responsibility of a local issues director.  They track legislation and items of particular timely interest. Our Observer Corps attends meetings to report back to the board and members on key issues.





On February 1, NAMI sold its two permanent supportive group homes to DuPage County.  The two homes, one located in Glen Ellyn Woods, and the second in Naperville, were purchased with DuPage County Community Development Funds and donations to NAMI over twenty-five years ago.  Residents residing in these homes require twenty-four hour care that the DuPage County Health Department provides. 

There was concern that the homes would be sold to an investor, in which case, advocates for the residents feared that residents might lose their homes. For some, these houses are the only homes residents have known as adults. There are very few supportive, permanent housing units in DuPage County.  For many, dislocation would have meant an uncertain future, possibly a move-out-of-state.


On February 5, the Wheaton City Council denied Haymarket Center, a nonprofit organization, the zoning change required to move forward with their plan to open a 16-bed residential drug rehabilitation center in the Danada area of Wheaton.  The Council unanimously approved an ordinance that prohibited a residential center from being allowed in a commercially zoned area.  


The DuPage County Heath Department and the DuPage County Sheriff’s Office are partnering in a nationwide effort to divert people with mental health issues out of the criminal justice system and into community based care.  Local police officers are being trained to de-escalate these situations.  Through collaboration with other community partners,  the County Health Department/Sheriff’s Office are working to open a 24-hour receiving center and to provide post-incarceration care. 



State Senator Chris Nybo co-sponsored legislation that provides that a family member or law enforcement officer can petition a court for LVOP when there is substantial likelihood that the person will cause personal harm to him or herself or to others by owning or possessing a firearm.  Court considerations provided in the legislation include- recent threats or actions; violation of a order of protection; conviction of violent offense(s) in last 12 months.

The House is scheduled to consider this legislation this week.  League members are strongly urged to call your state representative and urge passage of this legislation.  


*A recently released government report states that opioid overdose Emergency Room cases increased 30% in a one-year period, summer 2016 to summer 2017.  Overdose deaths also increased. 

NAMI reports that:

*1 in 5 adults in the U.S. experience mental illness in a given year

*90% of those who die by suicide have an underlying mental illness

*70% of youth in juvenile justice system have at least one mental health condition, and limited access to care and support

Given these statistics, why is it that state & federal funding for mental health programs has and continues to significantly decrease?  We need to make our voices heard on this issue.  It makes economic sense given the cost to society of not addressing these issues.

Sources:  DuPage County Daily Herald, Chicago Tribune, NAMI website

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Several bills have been introduced in this new state legislative session that will impact those with developmental disabilities and those with mental illness, as well as, organizations and agencies who provide services to these people.

*State Reimbursement Rates for Support Staff:

Senate Bill 3508 and House Bill 5622 address an issue that has resulted in a critical shortage of direct support professionals (DSPs) who provide important services to those with developmental disabilities and/or those who have mental illness.  DSPs include nurses, qualified intellectual disability professionals, front line supervisors, aids, and support staff.

  Agencies and organizations who provide services have a very difficult time recruiting and retaining DSPs because of the low reimbursement rate the state pays to compensate for the wages of these workers.  Presently, DSPs make $10.59 an hour, below what is considered to be a living wage.  SB3508 and HB 5622 would raise the DSP base wages to $13.50 by July 1 and to $15 by July 1, 2020.

*Dental Services:

Those who receive Medicaid, including those with developmental disabilities and those who have mental illness, do not have dental insurance coverage.  As a result, those who receive Medicaid must find a dentist who is willing to provide care, free of charge.  This is in spite of the fact that dental care is known to be essential to overall health.

House Bill 4347 and Senate Bill 2429 would require the Department of Healthcare and Family Services to provide dental services to adults eligible for Medicaid.  In addition, it would prohibit health care plans from limiting dental services for those receiving Medicaid.

*Personal Needs Allowance:

Presently, those with developmental disabilities who live in intermediate care facilities or in community-integrated living settings in Illinois are only allowed to keep $60 from their Social Security Income (SSI) each month.  The remainder must be applied to the cost of their residential services.  This means that a person receiving SSI has only $60/month for all of their “personal need” expenditures, such as, clothes, shampoo, soap, toothpaste, haircuts, snacks, movie rentals.  HB4852 would amend the Medical Assistance Article of the Illinois Public Aid Code.  It would provide that the Monthly Personal Needs Allowance would be no less than 15% of a person’s monthly SSI for the previous year, beginning in October of this year. 

Sonja Faulkner   


MENTAL HEALTH: The League supports a comprehensive and coordinated system of treatment and rehabilitation services for adults and children with mental illness. There should be adequate funding, planning, program standards, and personnel training requirements for both state facilities and community programs. The League supports a broad array of adequate and accessible community services. Although primary responsibility should rest with the state, funding from local, federal, and non-governmental sources should be encouraged. A system of local boards to levy taxes, administer all funds, and to plan and coordinate services should be required throughout the state. The State should require local governments to provide in their zoning ordinances for residential programs for persons with mental illness.