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.




Lawmakers in Illinois introduced a medical managed care reform bill in the House and Senate. It is named the Mental Health Modernization and Access Act. HB2486 and Senate Bill 1673. Rep. Deb Conway D=Villa Park, who heads the House Mental Health Committee and Sen. Heather Stevens, D-Chicago are the sponsors .Our representative, Terra Costa Howard has signed on as one of the cosponsors.

Among the findings of the general assembly was insufficient access to mental health care in Illinois which has leads  to  children remaining in psychiatric hospitals beyond medical necessity, often  parents/guardians need to relinquish  custody in order to get treatment, and there are growing suicide rates. It is believed that these major problems are the direct consequences of the way reimbursements are made. Regulatory practices need to be changed to allow for payments to be made for outcomes, integration, or care delivery innovations instead of fee for service. In other words payment reform. The synopsis or full bill can be viewed on the website


In an article written by David F. Larson, Superintendent of Glenbard High School District 87 in  My Suburban Life   Marijuana today is two to three times more potent than it was in the past according to the Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.  Among the negative effects of marijuana use on young people's school performance is increased risk of mental health issues, including depression and anxiety impaired driving and potential for addiction The superintendent says parents can help by becoming educated. He cites two good sources of information as the DuPage Prevention Leadership Teams' website ,

Dupage County Sheriff James Mendrick speaking at the Dupage United Assembly on March 10 said that Mental Health Issues are the counties'  biggest problem. Some people are self -medicating with opioids which may lead to overdose. His concern includes teenagers as well as adults.


National     A number of  federal agencies will be providing grants to providers in the various states to provide services to help prevent opioid overdoses and misuse. These agencies include the Center for Disease Control, Department of Justice, Health Resources and Services Administration and the Office of National Drug & Control Policy.

Substance Abuse Disorder and Mental Illness are often connected. Sometimes the SUD predominates and sometimes the MI diagnosis. Both need to be treated more effectively. More funding may help. Last year 40 million cases of illness were the result of alcohol, smoking and other addictive drugs.

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Mental Health: Mental Health concerns seem to be featured almost daily in the media .There may be  increasing efforts to  highlight  mental illness and what could  be done to provide care. Hopefully  this  increased attention will reduce stigma. If stigma is reduced and people seek help sooner there could be better outcomes for all.

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


An 8 hour course that teaches how to help someone who may be experiencing a mental health or substance abuse challenge. For further information go to website.

ILLINOIS WARM LINE 1 866 359 7953 (Monday -Friday 8:00am-5:00pm)

Staffed by individuals in recovery from mental health/substance use conditions who have been trained in support, advocacy ,mentoring and professional responsibility.                                     Also see Website


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.