Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2016 promises to cut more than $94 million for community mental health care, treatment and services throughout the state. Budget cuts for community mental health resources will create a bigger problem, not a solution.
I serve as the board president for WellSpring Resources, which serves more than 7,600 people with mental health conditions and substance abuse disorders every year. We estimate that the proposed budget will cut $1,873,618 from our agency’s budget, preventing 4,774 people from receiving vital services, such as crisis intervention services, supportive housing services and school-based counseling services. In short, about 63 percent of the people we serve will be affected by these cuts. If I have learned anything in the nearly 20 years that I have served on WellSpring’s board, it is that without healthy minds we cannot have a healthy community.
I urge the General Assembly to reconsider the state budget proposal. Please reshape it to ensure that no one in Illinois goes without the mental health treatment or medications they need to live healthy, happy lives.
I would also like to urge local citizens to speak up about this issue. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in four adults experience mental illness in any given year. It is likely that you know someone who has struggled with mental health issues. Please tell your legislators that community mental health resources are important and budget cuts are not the answer.