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Simon pushes to prioritize mental health funding 

Visits southern Illinois group home and crisis center

CARBONDALE – Lt. Governor Sheila Simon urged the state to prioritize funding for mental health services today during a tour of a southern Illinois group home and a mental health crisis center.

Simon is the only southern Illinois resident serving on the state’s Budgeting for Results Commission and chairs the Governor’s Rural Affairs Council, which has identified mental health access as one of its top health care concerns. Between 2009 and 2011, Illinois cut general revenue funding for mental health services by almost $114 million and was fourth in the nation for total cuts.

“Human service providers offer a number of valuable services – from job training to emergency mental health care – to people with developmental disabilities and mental illnesses,” said Simon. “Like the rest of us, they are doing more with less, but we need to make sure the state provides the financial support service providers need.”

Simon is visiting a group home and a mental health crisis center operated by The H Group. For more than 50 years the agency has provided mental health services in Franklin, Jackson and Williamson Counties. The H Group Crisis Center in Carterville opened this spring and provides round the clock care to individuals going through mental health crises. These tours follow a visit to Murray Developmental Center earlier this year.

"Our mission at The H Group is to be your healthcare partner for hope, growth and improved quality of life,” said John G. Markley, CEO of The H Group. “We're glad to call the State of Illinois our partner in providing essential community and mental health resources and are grateful to Lieutenant Governor Simon for spotlighting the need for stronger funding for these services."

As a member of the state’s Budgeting for Results Commission, Simon heard testimony from southern Illinois service providers, advocates and stakeholders at three public hearings this summer. The bi-partisan commission will use the information on the success of existing programs and services to advise the Governor and General Assembly on the budget process this fall.

“I am proud to be involved in the budgeting for results process, which is letting us see firsthand the important work being done by agencies like The H Group,” Simon added. “I look forward to continuing to work with the rest of the commission to make sure we prioritize agencies who are doing their work well and can demonstrate it.”

Individuals experiencing a mental health crisis can visit The H Group Crisis Center at any time, where they will receive a mental health assessment, counseling and be assisted with any necessary follow-up care. The center also helps patients avert expensive emergency room treatment. According to The H Group, in 2012 more than 2,600 mental health crisis patients visited emergency rooms in their service areas, and it is estimated that 75 percent of those patients could have been served by the crisis center.