A look into the decline of mental health services

League of Women Voters to host mental health care forum

ROCHELLE –– One in five Americans live with a mental health condition, but treatment is scarce and only 40 percent of those affected receive mental health services.
Rochelle League of Women Voters will host a forum on mental health and the decline in assistance on Thursday, Jan. 18.
Mary Brokaw, President of NAMI-Sauk Area and Tracy Brooks, Ogle County community mental health board member and family support group facilitator, will discuss the history and decline of mental health systems in the U.S. and consequent adverse effects on the mentally ill, their families, and society.  They will explain the many barriers to treatment and changes needed to provide effective treatment.    
Brooks encourages anyone who has a family member with a mental illness, those with a mental illness and anyone who is looking to better understand mental health care to attend the forum.
“I hope they get a true understanding of mental health care,” stated Brooks. “We are back to where we were in the 1940s as far as treatment facilities and help for mental health care.”
Brooks will present a brief history of mental illness and how the system has got to where it is today and current barriers to treatment. Brokaw will share her son’s story of his struggle with mental illness and what is and isn’t being done for his treatments.
Tom Dart, Cook County Sheriff, commented that the Cook County jail had become the repository for the mentally ill after closure of many state institutions. 
Brooks echoed his sentiment stating, “instead of throwing someone in jail for a crime they committed and don’t remember they need to get treatment.”
National Alliance on Mental Illness is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for millions of Americans affected by mental illness. Although one in five adults live with a mental health condition, only 40 percent receive mental health services.  In addition to diminished quality of life, the economic cost is nearly $190 billion in lost earnings every year.
The League of Women Voters recently completed a two-year study on funding gaps in Ogle County for mental health services.
Illinois House Bill 708 passed in 1967 authorized counties to establish and levy a modest tax for mental health services. Ogle County implemented the board by referendum in 1968.
House Bill 708 states a county cannot levy taxes for behavioral services in excess of .15 percent. The county currently taxes 0.05 percent for mental health services and the Rochelle League of Women Voters is hoping their study will influence the county board to up the limit.
“Most people would be willing to pay it. It is still a minimal amount,” stated League of Women Voters member Claude McKibben. “If you practice prevention it is a lot cheaper than the police picking someone up off the street. The league will work with the board as much as they can to ensure mental health services are effective in Ogle County.”
The Ogle County Mental Health Board works directly with the Health, Education and Welfare Committee of the county board and the county board to fulfill their major responsibilities.
The 708 Board strives to strike a balance between supporting the budget-making decisions of the County Board and advocating for providers and in turn the residents of Ogle County who are in need of behavioral healthcare services.
The League of Women Voters will host this presentation at Northwestern Medicine Clinic, near Walmart, at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 18. The public is invited to attend and learn how to advocate for better services to assist those in need. Brooks and Brokaw will offer resources and information on support groups available in the area.
About LWV
The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan organization created in 1920 that works toward improving the political process. League of Women Voters is open to everyone, men and women, and provides nonpartisan research on issues.
The League is a non-partisan organization whose chief goal is to encourage informed participation by citizens in federal, state, and local government decisions. Two primary focus areas are Voter Service/Education and Action/Advocacy.
The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political membership organization which: Acts after study and member agreement to achieve solutions in the public interest on key community issues at all government levels. Builds citizen participation in the democratic process. Lastly, engages communities in promoting positive solutions to public policy issues through education and advocacy.
Members are dedicated to studying local issues and taking action related to their studies.
For more information on the local league and upcoming event visit lwvrochelle.org.

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