As it has before on big issues, the League of Women Voters is tackling a study of an important social service sector in McLean County. League Vice President Sally Rudolph says the study will examine the way mental health programs are delivered in the twin cities.
"We're trying to find out just where the holes are, what's lacking, what are the problems? Apparently there are some problems especially after we reviewed the National Institute of Corrections Report."
The National Institution of Corrections review came about because of an increase in county jail inmates with mental health issues. It concluded the county does not have timely or adequate levels of service, and a lack of short term and long term care beds. Sheriff Mike Emery has said his facility tends to be a first responder to mental health issues. Rudolph acknowledges the issue of patterns of service is more important than in past years as the government funding crisis is removing Illinois State government from the mental health area. Rudolph says the study group will particularly look at who makes decisions in each agency dealing with the mentally ill.
"We're asking all about collaboration, if they have ever collaborated with any other groups or agencies and if they plan to in the future, because we think that could be a problem, collaboration."
She says some believe the issue is not just identifying problems, but getting the right people at each organization to talk to each other to decide outcomes.
"We have identified 42 agencies and individuals we are planning to interview, both funders of mental health, providers of mental health, and advocacy groups."
Rudolph says she hopes the League's report and recommendations next spring will be of use to a mental health advisory committee being formed by the County Board to address similar concerns. The League has previously tacked issues such as alternatives to jail, consolidating elected offices at the county level, and combining the Bloomington Election Commission and County Clerk's office election functions.
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