mental health

Roberta Lynch
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

The labor union representing Illinois prison workers says assaults are way up. AFSCME is asking the state to do more to keep its members safe.

Logan Correctional Center
Google Maps

Advocates say Illinois’ treatment of prisoners with mental illness is so bad — the prison system is in a “state of emergency.” They’re asking a federal judge to intervene.

John Baldwin
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

The Illinois Department of Corrections on Wednesday announced most of its workers have completed mental-illness training. It's part of the settlement in a long-running legal dispute over how Illinois prisons treat inmates with mental-heath disorders.

State prison director John Baldwin says the training will help make working in prisons a safer job.

"Seventy-eight percent of all assaults on staff across the United States are committed by an offender with an identified behavioral health issue," Baldwin says.

Illinois has applied to the federal government for a waiver that could bring Illinois not only a significant increase in Medicaid dollars, but also more flexibility for how those dollars are spent. We talked to two members of Gov. Bruce Rauner's cabinet -- Human Services Secretary James Dimas and George Sheldon, acting secretary of the Department of Children and Family Services -- about what this waiver would mean for the state.

Amanda Vinicky

Mental health centers were decimated during Illinois’ extended budget stalemate. Illinois is moving forward with plan to extend and expand behavioral health services to people who couldn't otherwise afford it, in a way that officials say will be cost-neutral to taxpayers. 

Dr. Kari Wolf says Illinois is roughly where Texas used to be.

Closed Tinley Park Mental Health Center
Brian Mackey / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration announced Friday afternoon that a portion of a state mental health facility in Elgin will become a ward for prisoners with mental illness.

Illinois' hand was forced to do something along these lines; the government agreed in settling a 2007 lawsuit, Rasho v. Baldwin, that alleged poor treatment of mentally ill prisoners.

In a press release, Department of Corrections Director John Baldwin calls the agreement between it and the Department of Human Services a "fundamental change."

Logan Correctional Center
Google Maps

  A federal judge has approved the settlement in a lawsuit over the treatment of Illinois’ mentally ill prisoners.

Without admitting wrongdoing, Department of Corrections Director John Baldwin says his agency is building four new mental health units, hiring more staff, and changing its policies on solitary confinement.

A House committee Wednesday gave the nod to a measure that could lighten the sentence of a mentally ill criminal.

A judge can take a lot 16 different factors into consideration when meting out a sentence.

The legislation proposed by Chicago Democratic Rep. Pamela Reeves-Harris adds another one.

"The court may consider, in mitigation, information that at the time of the offense the defendant was suffering from a serious mental illness," she said.

Lilong Dolrani

When the state finally has a budget, who will be left out?

Pill bottle
Charles Williams

After the state eliminated a grant that supports psychiatric care, providers worry patients may be cut off from medication and other treatment.

Rachel Otwell/WUIS

Tune in to this week's version of The Scene - Scott Faingold & Rachel are joined by special guest host, local singer/songwriter Tom Irwin.

House Speaker Michael Madigan
WUIS/Illinois Issues

During his inaugural speech in January, House Speaker Michael Madigan called for the creation of a task force to look into ways to prevent mass shootings, such as the 2013 Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut that took the lives of 20 children and six adults.

ILGA.gov

During his inauguration speech, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan announced a new mission -- figuring out what Illinois can do to prevent violence, like mass shootings at schools. A bipartisan task force formed to study the issue will meet for the first time today in Chicago.

Look back at the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Columbine, Northern Illinois University, and Rep. Greg Harris says you'll see commonalities. Like missed opportunities to help the killers with mental health issues that had been detected, but weren't properly treated.

It has been two years or so since 26 people -- most of them young children -- died in a massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. The shooter was 20-year-old Adam Lanza.

A report studying him was released late last year by Connecticut's child advocate office; it shows problems identifying and treating his mental illness.

"There were several missed opportunities to help Lanza," said longtime Speaker of the Illinois House Michael Madigan on the opening day of the new General Assembly.

WSIU

There’s a tug-o-war going on in Southern Illinois over how the state cares for its neediest citizens.  It’s playing out along a ribbon of small towns. But the outcome will determine  the future for many Illinois citizens with disabilities.

State Representative Charlie Meier is a farmer by birth - he tends 14 hundred acres with just one hired hand.

MEIER: We’re in Okawville, Illinois in my family kitchen.

MEIER: Built in 1907. My grandma drug all the logs home with a pack of mules for the house and the barn and then they were cut up here.

Sean Powers

According to federal labor statistics, there are more psychiatrists working in Illinois than most states, with the bulk of that service concentrated in the Chicagoland area. But mental health providers say there are major gaps in service across Illinois, especially downstate. 

Zach Medlyn, 27, of Champaign did not start hearing the voices until about seven years ago, when he was a student at the University of Illinois.

Jamey Dunn
mattpenning.com 2014 / WUIS/Illinois Issues

After a shooter took the lives of 20 children and six adults in Newtown, Conn., policymakers at the state and federal levels called for a re-evaluation of many things. Gun laws, school security and behavioral health treatment topped the list.

Jamey Dunn
mattpenning.com 2014 / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Illinois should provide mental health care and addiction treatment to those who truly need it instead of incarcerating thousands of the addicted and the mentally ill, making taxpayers shell out for care in the much costlier settings of prison and jails. 

Mark Heyrman, a University of Chicago law professor, says the state is not using all the money from the facility closures on community care, as required by law, and he is heading up a lawsuit against Illinois.
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Recent high-profile tragedies, including a school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut that took the lives of 20 children and six adults, have prompted states to reassess their mental health care systems. After almost $2 billion in cuts nationwide, many of them, including Illinois, are finding their support systems for the mentally ill in tatters. 

Advocates and providers say cuts to mental health funding in the state have left the system decimated, but they say the implementation of federal health care reform offers hope for those who are unable to access services now. 

Fliers commemorate undocumented youth who committed suicide.
Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights

Tears ran down Reyna Wences’ face as she described her despair. 

She talked about her efforts to be a good student and her desire to make her parents proud, to be worthy of all they sacrificed for her to get a good education, culminating with her 2009 graduation from a selective college-prep high school in Chicago.