Notice of Cybersecurity Incident

Concerned Woman

The toll of a bud­get impasse

What’s the problem?

It’s been on the news, in the papers, and maybe men­tioned in a pass­ing con­ver­sa­tion but does Illi­nois’ bud­get impasse real­ly have an affect on you? In short, absolute­ly. With this dead­lock eat­ing away at men­tal health ser­vices, these prob­lems don’t just dis­ap­pear; these prob­lems seep into oth­er infra­struc­tures and con­sume valu­able resources.

So let’s break it down into more palat­able parts.

  • For two years, Illi­nois has been with­out a bud­get due to dif­fer­ences from Repub­li­can Gov­er­nor Bruce Rauner and leg­isla­tive Democrats
  • The state’s unfund­ed pen­sion lia­bil­i­ty has grown to $203 billion
    • Pen­sion lia­bil­i­ty-the dif­fer­ence between the total amount due to retirees and the actu­al amount of mon­ey the com­pa­ny has on hand to make those payments.
  • The state debt increas­es on aver­age $500,000 per hour
  • The lack of bud­get affects edu­ca­tion, health­care, pris­ons, men­tal health, state employ­ees, state parks, domes­tic vio­lence vic­tims, child­care, seniors, hous­ing, social ser­vices, muse­ums, and many more areas

How does this affect men­tal health and seniors services?

Ser­vice Centers

In rank­ing states with the high­est men­tal health bud­get cuts, Illi­nois came in third at $113.7 mil­lion behind New York and Cal­i­for­nia (20092012). It has been proven that with effec­tive ser­vices and sup­port, peo­ple liv­ing with major men­tal ill­ness can and do achieve recov­ery,” says a report by the Nation­al Alliance on Men­tal Ill­ness (NAMI). How­ev­er, when ser­vices are cut and indi­vid­u­als with men­tal ill­ness are left untreat­ed, peo­ple end up in emer­gency rooms, extend­ed stays in hos­pi­tals, home­less, in jail, or dead. With a pop­u­la­tion of 12.88 mil­lion peo­ple liv­ing in Illi­nois, it’s esti­mat­ed by NAMI Chica­go that 7.5 mil­lion adults are liv­ing with a vary­ing degree of men­tal ill­ness, 58% of Illi­nois’ pop­u­la­tion. With a halt to fund­ing, psy­chol­o­gists and psy­chi­a­trists are less will­ing to see patients, which means these peo­ple aren’t get­ting the care they need. For those with severe men­tal ill­ness, their new treat­ment facil­i­ty is prison.

Crim­i­nal Jus­tice System

With men­tal health facil­i­ties at their capac­i­ty with clients, the job of respond­ing to men­tal ill­ness relat­ed crises falls on local police offi­cers. How­ev­er, spe­cial train­ing is required for offi­cers who respond to men­tal ill­ness calls, which requires fund­ing. For exam­ple, the Orland Park Police Depart­ment assem­bled a cri­sis inter­ven­tion team (CIT) that serves as an auto­mat­ic response sys­tem for calls relat­ed to men­tal ill­ness, it pro­vides resources for fam­i­lies, keeps police offi­cers safer and decreas­es the num­ber of emer­gency calls for ser­vice.” (The Region­al News) The cost of train­ing a class of 25 comes to about $20,000. With the state bud­get on hold, those train­ing have come to a halt. It’s clear that because men­tal health facil­i­ties aren’t get­ting fund­ing and police offi­cers aren’t get­ting trained in treat­ing the men­tal­ly ill that thou­sands of indi­vid­u­als are being cycled into the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem with­out prop­er care.


One of the most mul­ti-faceted pieces affect­ed by the bud­get cri­sis, fund­ing for edu­ca­tion is prov­ing unre­li­able. Not only are stu­dents not receiv­ing schol­ar­ship and grant mon­ey, but some insti­tu­tions are wor­ried that they might not even be able to pay employ­ees come fall. The most affect­ed are stu­dents com­ing from low-income fam­i­lies due to their heavy reliance on schol­ar­ships and grants. Col­leges such as Chica­go State Uni­ver­si­ty and North­west­ern Uni­ver­si­ty who rely heav­i­ly on gov­ern­ment fund­ing are in dan­ger of shut­ting down. The men­tal toll of stu­dents los­ing the oppor­tu­ni­ty of high­er edu­ca­tion, pro­fes­sors and staff los­ing their jobs and the lack of edu­ca­tion on issues about men­tal ill­ness is dev­as­tat­ing. In addi­tion, few­er peo­ple giv­en access to high­er edu­ca­tion means less psy­chol­o­gists, psy­chi­a­trists, ther­a­pists and oth­er health care providers.

With schools shuf­fling mon­ey around try­ing to stay afloat, men­tal health edu­ca­tion gets lost. This means less peo­ple includ­ing stu­dents, teach­ers, and pro­fes­sors being edu­cat­ed on men­tal ill­ness, sen­si­tiv­i­ty and a prop­er way to address and treat it. A lack of edu­ca­tion leads to par­ents not address­ing their children’s ill­ness, teenagers ashamed of some­thing they can’t con­trol, and adults who aren’t giv­en the resources to prop­er­ly heal; all of which have cat­a­stroph­ic results.

How does this affect you?

1 in 5 Amer­i­cans suf­fer from men­tal ill­ness. To read more sta­tis­tics go here. So think of 5 fam­i­ly mem­bers or friends and imag­ine if one of them were deal­ing with depres­sion or anx­i­ety or sub­stance abuse or schiz­o­phre­nia. Imag­ine if they couldn’t get the help they need­ed because they weren’t accept­ed into a cer­tain pro­gram or their Med­ic­aid wouldn’t cov­er a psy­chi­a­trist for them and you didn’t know how to take care of them. This is the real­i­ty for mil­lions of peo­ple due to the state putting a hold on a bud­get. Whether you’re aware of it or not, some­one near you is strug­gling with men­tal ill­ness in some degree or another.

How can you help?

Edu­cate, edu­cate, educate

One of the most impor­tant things you can do is edu­cate your­self on the state of Illi­nois’ bud­get cri­sis, men­tal ill­ness­es and treat­ments avail­able near you. The more you know the more you can help your­self and others.

Write to your legislators

Go here and stress the impor­tance of end­ing the bud­get impasse.


Share any infor­ma­tion and/​or news you find with col­leagues, cowork­ers, fam­i­ly and friends via social media, email and word of mouth.


Men­tal health ser­vice cen­ters, like Ken­neth Young Cen­ter, depend on sup­port­ers like you to con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing invalu­able ser­vices to those in need. Any dona­tion whether it’s mon­ey, cloth­ing, ser­vices or time only helps cen­ters like us main­tain care.

You can donate here. For vol­un­teer oppor­tu­ni­ties go here.

Previous Article Next Article
You're Not Alone

5.7 million
Amer­i­cans expe­ri­ence a men­tal health dis­or­der in a giv­en year.

Get Involved

How You Can Help

Keep up to date with KYC!

Get the latest Kenneth Young Center news and insights emailed to you each month. Just complete the form below to subscribe.