Opinion of the Daily Herald: Mental health councils provide a locally managed response to a blight affecting lives and communities

Opinion of the Daily Herald: Mental health councils provide a locally managed response to a blight affecting lives and communities

Voters in communities across four hill counties are being asked this fall to support a funding mechanism that can solve one of the most daunting problems plaguing our society today.

We hope they will embrace the opportunity to have a significant impact at minimal cost.

Mental health issues take a heavy toll on the lives of individuals and our communities in many ways: addiction, suicide, mental illness, developmental illness, and crime, especially mass shootings and crimes committed with firearms. fire.

Unfortunately, state and federal resources do not follow remotely. Community Mental Health Councils Wanted on Ballots in Addison, Lisle, Naperville, Schaumburg, Wheeling, Winfield and Vernon Townships and Will County Can Help Close the Gap – and through a process that ensures local control both over determining funding levels and over deciding priorities in a specific community for the allocation of money.

Community mental health councils – also known as 708 councils, after the legislation that created them – are local groups of volunteers appointed by township supervisors or county leaders who identify the greatest needs. critics in their region and provide grants to committed local agencies. to approach them.

State law limits the tax rate for such councils to a maximum of 0.15% of a property’s value, although the average rate among the 80 councils already in operation today in Illinois is much lower than this small number. The actual rate will vary from community to community – one of the merits of a system based on local control – but the group promoting the Wheeling Township measure expects the cost for a typical homeowner that’s on the order of $30 a year — “over the cost of a large pizza,” says supporter Arlen Gould. If passed, developers in the township intend to seek approximately $1.5 million, which is about one-sixth of the top property tax rate at just 0.026%. That’s less than three hundredths of one percent.

Yet such modest levels of funding can support important mental health resources.

“I think word has gotten around that (Council 708) is a very inexpensive way to do great things,” Geri Kerger, executive director of the DuPage National Alliance on Mental Illness, told Our Steve Zalusky for a story last August in reference to such projects already underway in Collar County communities.

As an indicator of the urgency of the need, Gould cites studies that ranked Illinois 35th among all states for providing mental health care and 43rd for services for people with developmental disabilities,

Gould also bristles at recent mail from a political opposition group that lists a host of distortions and inaccuracies attempting to portray the councils as costly additional units of Illinois government. They are neither.

Indeed, at a time when opioid addiction is raging, teen suicide is a growing crisis, and mass shootings are so common that the one thing gun control proponents and opponents alike are concerned about grant is the need for greater mental health care, it is valuable, cost effective and a locally responsive mechanism for individuals and communities who need all the help they can get.

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