Mental Health

Local Issues Director: Sonja Faulkner, 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.

LATEST REPORT: February 7. 2018




Background: The Opioid Crisis has exploded over the last several years, throughout the country and in DuPage County.


2014-  33

2015-  51

2016-  95

2017-  95

Percentage of change from 2014- 2017:  187.9%

In 2014, DuPage County public health officials created the DuPage Narcan Program to address this crisis.  Twelve thousand police officers were trained to administer narcan, a nasal spray which can reverse the effects of opioids like heroin and save the lives of many of those who have overdosed.

DuPage County was the first suburban county in the Chicago area to begin using narcan, the spray version of naloxone.  In DuPage County in 2017, naloxone was used 207 times; of these, it was successful in 174 cases.  This was the largest number of uses in the five suburban collar counties. (Cook County does not have a countywide program, nor is data available for Cook County.)

More evidence-based therapeutic programs are needed to effectively address opioid addiction. In DuPage County, there are few options.  Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove has initiated a program to pair addiction specialists with emergency room patients who have overdosed. The DuPage County Sheriff’s Office is working to address the issue by having deputies accompany clinicians to follow-up with those who have overdosed.  According to medical experts, patient follow-up immediately after someone is resuscitated is critical because within one to two hours after resuscitation, the cravings return. 

Recently, Haymarket Center Chicago approached the City of Wheaton, seeking zoning changes in order to build a 16-bed residential drug treatment center in Rice Lake Square.  It would provide comprehensive treatment in a residential setting. The future of this treatment center is uncertain. 

The Planning Commission has held hearings on the proposal.  There is recognition of the great need for treatment centers like the one proposed by both members of the public and members of the Plan Commission.  However, some residents are concerned about having a center in an area that is in close proximity to single family homes.  In contrast, at the most recent Plan Commission meeting, the  board members voted unanimously  to deny the zoning change because the area is commercially zoned.  Board members stated that they feel it is important to retain the proposed site’s commercial zoning.

The Wheaton City Council will consider this at their February 5 Board meeting.

If the Wheaton City Council denies the zoning, the issue of where treatment centers might be built becomes a concern at a time when the need to provide comprehensive drug abuse treatment is so great.


NAMI DUPAGE will hold its Annual Meeting on Tuesday, March 6th from 6:30-8:30 p.m. in The Community Center, 115 N. County Farm Road (DuPage County Complex) in Wheaton.  The meeting is open to the public.    The guest speaker will be Jim Scarpace,, Executive Director of Gateway Foundation.  He will speak and answer questions about addiction, the treatment process and the rapid changes in this field.  


According to a recent Gallop poll, 3.2 million Americans lost health insurance coverage in 2017, a 1.3%  increase.  This is the first time since 2008 that the percentage of adults without coverage increased from the previous year.  The decline in coverage was most pronounced among young adults, blacks, Latinos and households earning less than $36,000.

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

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December 9, 2017     Glenside Public Library

Sponsored by State Representative Deb Conroy whose legislative district includes an area of north Glen Ellyn, as well as Glendale Heights. Attended by KAT DOYLE who provided the following notes: Representative Conroy is chair of the State Mental Health Committee.

-Discussion of Services for those with Mental Illness including NAMI Programs; 708 and 553 Mental Health Boards; DuPage County Health Dept. Programs.

-Representative Conroy will continue to hold hearings on mental health parity.

-Legislation in the spring will be on her Facebook page.

-DuPage County needs a therapeutic day school as residents are now sent to Utah.


Formed in 2013 in the midst of health care reform and state & federal fiscal crises by DuPage County leaders to work collaboratively “to close gaps in the County’s system of safety-net services” in the area of health care.

“Impact DuPage” online newsletter dated 1/3/18:

“Impact DuPage” website has added new indicators on their “Community Dashboard” that show the rates of hospitalizations (both impatient & outpatient) in DuPage County due to various factors, including mental health, suicide and substance abuse.   Includes the number of people admitted countywide or by zip code.  Rates can then be compared to historical data and to other counties.  Will enable providers to determine need for preventive measures and assist in need assessment.

HAYMARKET, a Chicago based nonprofit organization, proposes to open a drug & alcohol treatment center in Rice Lake/Danada in Wheaton.  The need for such a center is widely recognized.  Residents and some medical professionals question the location of the facility.   The City of Wheaton’s Planning and Zoning Boards are expected to make a recommendation to the City Council on January 23.

Also in Area News: High rate of Teenage Depression & Anxiety.

November 2017 Report

The recent mass shootings in Las Vegas has raised the consistent narrative that the “perpetrator must have been mentally ill.” In an article that appeared in The Atlantic in June 2016, Jeffrey Swanson, professor of Psychology & Behavioral Health at Duke University, stated, “We have a strong responsibility as researchers who study mental illness to try to debunk that myth. I say as loudly and strongly and as frequently as I can that mental illness is not a very big part of the problem of gun violence in the U.S.” This week, when interviewed on public television, he again spoke to this issue, stating, “This is not the place to start.”

 Emily McGinty, a professor of health policy at John Hopkins University, states that there is “something is wrong with those that commit violent crimes,” especially mass murders but “that does not mean that they have a clinical diagnosis and therefore treatable mental illness.”

The vast majority of people with mental illness are not violent. Yet, the media perpetuates the link between mental illness and violence in its coverage of violent crimes. From 1995-2014, over 50% of the articles relating to mental illness were linked to violent crime, especially as it related to mass shootings. Public officials and private citizens who refer to the perpetrator as “insane,” “mentally deranged” similarly perpetuate this connection. This mass murder-mental illness connection can exacerbate negative feelings that the general public has about those who have mental illness, heightening an already significant stigma that often results in failure of those with mental illness to seek treatment.

Grant Duwe, criminologist with the Minnesota Department of Corrections, studied 1300 mass murders in the U.S. between 1900-2013; of them, he classified 160 as mass public shootings (those of at least four people killed in a concentrated period of time, excluding domestic settings or related to other crimes). Few happened before the 1960s. He cites the mass shooting at the University of Texas at Austin as the ”episode that introduced the idea of mass murder in a public space.” Sixteen people were killed. There was one mass shooting by his definition in the 1970s and four in the 2000s.

Escalation of mass murders continues at an alarming rate. We need to look for evidence-based reasons why and address this issue. It is also imperative that federal and state laws more effectively address the proliferation of gun violence.

Gun Violence Prevention is an Action Focus of LWVIL for the 2017-2019 Biennium. LWVIL continues to be a member of the Illinois Coalition Against Handgun Violence. LWV state and national positions on both Mental Health and Gun Violence Prevention can be found on their respective websites. 


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.