Millions of Americans – including many of our friends, family, neighbors, and colleagues – live with a mental health condition. While 1 in 5 people will experience a mental illness during their lifetime, everyone faces challenges in life that can impact their mental health. Unfortunately, stigma and misunderstanding are still widespread and prevent many from seeking the treatment needed to lead healthy lives.

While we should address mental wellness, year-round, highlighting Mental Health Awareness Month in May provides a dedicated time for mental health advocates across the country to come together to sponsor activities, large or small, and to educate the public about mental health.

At IDHS, we celebrate the resiliency of the staff, patients and residents served by our Division of Mental Health (DMH), and across all six of our divisions.

Increasing the number of Certified Community Behavioral Health Centers

DMH and SUPR recently embarked on an innovative and strategic partnership with the National Council for Mental Well-being to expand Certified Community Behavioral Health Centers (CCBHCs) across the state. A CCBHC is a specially designated clinic that provides a comprehensive range of mental health and substance use services.

The CCBHC model alleviates decades-old challenges that have led to a crisis in providing access to mental health and substance use care. As an integrated and sustainably financed model for care delivery, CCBHCs:

Ensure access to integrated, evidence-based substance use disorder and mental health services, including 24/7 crisis response and medication-assisted treatment (MAT).

Meet stringent criteria regarding timeliness of access, quality reporting, staffing and coordination with social services, criminal justice, and education systems.

Receive funding to support the real costs of expanding services to fully meet the need for care in their communities.” (Reference: National Council CCBHC Success Center)

Over the coming days, weeks, and months, the Departments of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) and IDHS will work to expand the number of CCBHC’s operating in Illinois.

CRSS Success has launched

The CRSS (Certified Recovery Support Specialists) Success Program launched in January 2022 with grants to 11 colleges and universities across the state and is showing great success. Five of the colleges are serving students now (Spring ’22); the other six will begin in Fall ’22. The program provides education and practical experience opportunities for individuals with lived expertise of mental health and/or substance use recovery so they can obtain either the CRSS or CPRS credential through the Illinois Certification Board. By the end of the 3-year grant cycle, this program has the potential to certify between 550-600 students, helping them to enter the behavioral health workforce.

DC:0-5 Clinical Training Initiative

In collaboration with the Governor’s Office of Infant and Early Childhood Education, DMH launched the “DC:0-5 Clinical Training Initiative.” The clinical training for the DC:0-5 is a three-day, five-hour-per-day course that uses a virtual learning platform and provides free Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for Licensed Social Worker (LSW), Licensed Clinical Social Worker, (LCSW), Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), and Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC). This initiative is being rolled out in support of the 2020 changes to the Education and Workforce Equity Act. The act requires that beginning July 1, 2022, providers use a developmentally appropriate and age-appropriate diagnostic assessment system for diagnosis and treatment planning, when needed, for children ages 5 and under. Demand for the training has been high, with several training dates added throughout the summer.

Program 402 First Responder Suicide Prevention NOFO released

DMH recently issued a NOFO for grants to support suicide prevention efforts for First Responders. Proposals are due June 14, 2022.

In 2020, the Illinois General Assembly (ILGA) released the “First Responders Suicide Prevention Task Force Final Report and Recommendations.” The report documents risk factors and other areas of concern among the first responder community in Illinois and makes recommendations for how to reduce suicide risk. The goal of Program 402 is to align first responder suicide prevention efforts with the recommendations cited in the report, including evidence-based interventions such as peer support, mental health awareness training, lethal means safety and related supports.

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