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Illinois Issues: Mental Health Care Cuts Threaten Access

Aimee Sharp
Author | Shield HealthCare
10/20/15  12:09 PM PST

By Jamey Dunn for WUIS

When Sherrie Crabb was a child, a crisis counselor helped change her life.

Crabb’s father had an addiction problem and was abusive to her mother. “I grew up in a home that had holes in the walls from fists being thrown and emergency telephone numbers taped under my sister’s bed just in preparation for that one night my mother may need rescuing,” Crabb told the Illinois House during a hearing last month. That night eventually came, and the girls called the police as they hid under the bed.

The police came with a crisis counselor. The sisters were placed in a foster care and began therapy, which Crabb says helped her heal from trauma.  She said the crisis counselor, from the southern-Illinois-based Family Counseling Center, gave her “hope that cycles can be broken, and others like myself can be helped.”

Now, she is the executive director of that same agency. But after the elimination of a state grant that helps to fund psychiatric services, Crabb and directors of community mental health centers throughout the state are concerned that they soon may not be able to offer core services to others in need.

The Psychiatric Leadership Capacity Grant provides funding to community mental health centers in Illinois to help cover the cost of employing a psychiatrist. The money goes to most of the roughly 140 mental health centers in the state. Often, mental health centers do not have a full-time psychiatrist on staff but bring one in for a few days each week or month to meet with patients and prescribe medication.

Illinois is in its fourth month without a budget, but state agencies still have to plan for how they will carry out programs. The Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS) has entered into contracts with community mental health centers for other services, but it simply did not send out contracts for the psychiatric services paid for by the grant.

Read the Full Article at WUIS.

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