Advocates warn of 'broken' mental health system
SPRINGFIELD – As lawmakers debate ways to prevent another mass shooting, Illinois mental health advocates say more attention – and money – must be directed to a system they describe as overwhelmed and ill-equipped to identify or care for the mentally ill, including someone intent on carrying out a violent act.
Between 2009 and 2012, Illinois slashed funding for community mental health programs by more than 30 percent – more than all but three other states, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Even before those cuts, Illinois' per capita spending on mental health was about $85 – well below the national average of about $123 per person, the group found.
The funding situation has made it difficult, if not impossible, for people who aren't in crisis or eligible for Medicaid to enter the system, says Lora Thomas, director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Illinois.
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