Illinois lawmakers, advocates hope to expand access to mental health services

SPRINGFIELD, Ill.- State legislators met in a joint committee hearing Friday to eliminate barriers to mental health and addiction care.

Advocates told lawmakers they desperately need help to get residents the care they rely on. The State Policy Director for Kennedy Forum Illinois noted how much mental health issues and suicide have risen throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

David Applegate says, in 2020 alone, Illinois saw the highest increase in rates of suicide and overdose among Black Illinoisans.

“It’s the people that lack the social and economic resources to fight these wrongful denials that are gonna most benefit from putting these standards in place,” said Applegate.

He emphasized the state should level the playing field to ensure health plans are covering every person in need. Lawmakers hope they can get treatment for those patients and save the state money in the long run.

Meanwhile, other advocates shared personal stories about dealing with mental illness and addiction. Illinois resident Alice Feldman explained her journey to recovery took much longer than it should have. She blames Illinois’ failed system for losing her friends to addiction when they were desperate for help.

“If health insurance companies had done their job properly and listened to therapists that actually work with the clients, Blair and Brian and countless others would have been given the chance to complete their medically-necessary treatment and their stories may have ended differently,” said Feldman.

She says the treatment is hard enough without the stress of health insurance companies deciding when you’re “all better.”

The Behavioral and Mental Health Committee plans to look into additional legislation to address the issues. They hope to meet again next week to continue the conversation.

The post Illinois lawmakers, advocates hope to expand access to mental health services appeared first on WEEK.

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March 12, 2021 at 06:34PM

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