Commissioner Gorman sponsors resolution to place referendum on county ballot regarding mental health funding in Illinois
Chicago, IL – Commissioner Elizabeth “Liz” Doody Gorman has sponsored a resolution asking to place a referendum on the Cook County ballot regarding mental health funding in Illinois. The resolution will be presented for approval at the upcoming Cook County Board of Commissioners meeting to be held this week on Wednesday, July 23. If passed, the referendum question will appear before Cook County voters on the November 4, 2014 ballot.
The resolution calls for the following question to be placed before Cook County voters in November, and it reads: “Shall the General Assembly of the State of Illinois appropriate additional funds to provide necessary mental health services for the people of the State of Illinois?”
One in five Illinois residents experiences a diagnosable mental disorder every year. Mental illness affects people regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion or economic status.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Health Illness, Illinois ranked fourth in the nation in terms of cutting mental health programs, with $187 million in cuts between 2009 and 2012. Half of Chicago’s 12 mental health care facilities have been closed by the state.
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart estimates that 25%-30% of the Cook County Jail population is suffering from mental illness and Cook County Jail is viewed as the largest mental health facility in the United States. Also, a study conducted by the University of Chicago suggests that the majority of youth involved with the criminal justice system experience at least one psychiatric disorder.
“Mental health is an issue that touches across all spectrums of our community. It’s important that we not lose sight of the significant impact state funding cuts have had at the local levels. It’s time for Springfield to get its financial priorities in order but not at the expense of those people who are most in need, especially in the area of mental health care,” said Commissioner Gorman.
The resolution has the support of Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle (as a co-sponsor) as well as the bipartisan support of eight fellow commissioners who have also signed on as co-sponsors. In addition, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez have submitted letters of support for the resolution.
President Preckwinkle and members of the Board of Commissioners recognize the significance of mental illness in Cook County and believe that more needs to be done to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness and additional resources to heighten awareness of and treatment for mental illness should be provided.
Commissioner Elizabeth “Liz” Doody Gorman, Republican from Orland Park, represents Cook County’s suburban 17th District. She has been a strong advocate for tax reform, fiscal responsibility, and budget and operational efficiencies. Commissioner Gorman has also worked hard for greater transparency throughout Cook County government and for making the Forest Preserve District a national leader in the areas of recreation, restoration and conservation.