Letter: Open Letter to Kane County legislators, community

By on June 9, 2011

The members of the Kane County Mental Health Council, a voluntary collaboration of service providers, advocates, the health department, local mental health authorities and other organizations with a sincere interest in mental health in Kane County, would like you to be aware that the various versions of the state budget being negotiated in Springfield this month all include drastic cuts to community-based mental health services.

These cuts will result in reduction or termination of much-needed services to hundreds, if not thousands, of Kane County residents. Ultimate care for these individuals will become the responsibility of the local communities. If not at the already-strained community mental health centers, it will be in the local jails, hospitals and homeless shelters. While we understand the need for a balanced Illinois budget, it is neither good social policy nor good fiscal policy to do so by denying services to Kane County residents with mental illness.

The proposed budgets include disproportionally large cuts to community-based services, while funding for state-operated facilities is expected to rise. The Mental Health Council would oppose these cuts to community services. Funding for local services, which represent the real safety net for the community, always appears to be first in line for cuts, including in the area of services to children with severe emotional disturbances. Mental health services affect everyone’s quality of life, from the streets to the schools to the jails to your own neighborhood.

On behalf of the tens of thousands of Kane County residents who receive mental health services, the thousands of board members and community supporters of mental health providers and the hundreds of Kane County residents who work in the mental health community, many of whom vote regularly, we ask for:
• No disproportionate cuts to community mental health
• Prompt payment for services rendered
• Don’t balance the state’s budget on the mentally ill
• Don’t shift these costs to local taxpayers

Jerry J. Murphy
KCMH Council