Local expert: Cuts pending to mental health services
By Janelle Walker For The Courier-News March 15, 2012 8:32PM
Updated: April 17, 2012 8:12AM
ELGIN — Mental health services in Kane County and throughout Illinois are facing major budget reductions that could cause significant problems not only for those needing the services but also for their families and the communities where they live, according to Jerry Murphy, executive director of Kane’s INC Board.
Murphy spoke Wednesday night at Gail Borden Public Library in a presentation for the Elgin Area League of Women Voters on the future of Kane County mental health services.
While the state of Illinois still funds most of the mental health services in Kane County, Murphy said, those services are looking at 40 percent cuts in grant funding, as well as further overall budget cuts.
The INC Board, formerly Mental Health and Mental Retardation Services Inc., is a consortium of seven taxpayer-funded township community mental health “708 boards.” The name comes from the statute number that created the boards in the late 1960s, he said.
The consortium helps fund mental health services throughout southern Kane County — townships that approved referendums in the past to provide those services.
Elgin and northern Kane County are not included in that group and do not have the same funding mechanisms available, he explained. That leaves nearly 43 percent of the county’s population without funding for mental health services beyond what is available from the state.
The INC Board funds three mental health service centers in the county — the Ecker Center for Mental Health in Elgin, the Association for Individual Development and the Gateway Foundation in Aurora.
The funding to the Ecker Center is earmarked to residents from those townships covered by the board, he explained. Although AID also has facilities in Elgin, the services provided here are not included in that funding, he added.
While cuts are on the table for mental health services statewide, legislation signed by Gov. Quinn last fall directs all Illinois counties, outside of Cook County, to study what local needs are for those services, Murphy said. The legislation, while not mandating 708 boards and a corresponding tax rate increase, does require establishment of mental health advisory committees.
The Kane County committee is set to meet for the first time next week, Murphy said. The committees are expected to create reports on what each county’s needs are by the end of 2018.
Still, he said, there is no guarantee of funding, or even that each county executive will place those with actual mental health experience or concerns on the panels.
It also is unknown how coming federal level health care reform will impact mental health spending and funding, Murphy said.
Those who are the beneficiaries of local funding are most often those who do not receive Medicaid or who do not have private insurance to cover the cost of therapy, counseling and psychiatric medications, he added.
“When mental health services are cut … we will see those people, with those behaviors, show up in other places — homeless shelters, jails, on the street, with parents who can’t deal with them anymore,” Murphy said. “It happens here in Elgin, not in Springfield.”