Andersson, Bellock address adolescent mental health care at committee hearing
Rep. Steven Andersson (R-Geneva) and Rep. Patricia Bellock (R-Hinsdale) made it clear changing the way the state addresses adolescent mental health is a must.
Discussing the NB. v. Norwood lawsuit, which was brought in 2011 accusing the state of not providing sufficient mental health care to adolescents, at Tuesday's House Human Services Committee, the two GOP lawmakers looked to Deb McCarrel, Illinois Collaboration on Youth senior policy analyst, for guidance.
McCarrel discussed a better mental health care system for adolescents beginning with the NB. v. Norwood consent decree. She said any system must account for adolescent development and never mistake them for “little adults.”
“We must rid our system of state department turf mentality and the belief that state agencies know what is best,” McCarrel said, adding Illinois should learn from other states that have faced similar lawsuits.
According to McCarrel, the three most important factors lawmakers need to address are continued transparency in the NB. v. Norwood implementation plan, a single unified crisis system and further support for adopted youth and family and open access package of mental health services for adolescents.
“The inclusion of families that have adopted youth from DCS as plaintiffs in the NB. v. Norwood litigation changed the shape of that litigation,” McCarrel said.
Andersson said he wanted to turn McCarrel’s recommendations into law.
“First off, wow, and I hope that whatever you said, you wrote down and give it to us because I want to turn it into a bill,” Andersson said. “What you described is exactly what I think we should all be advocating for.”
Andersson then asked that if lawmakers do not have to “reinvent the wheel,” which states should they look to for guidance. McCarrel said Massachusetts, Washington, New Jersey, Maryland and California are at least four examples.
“There several states out there that are experiencing what we are now,” McCarrel said. “We should take their lessons learned.”
Bellock said since the past work the committee has done, specifically to create the 1115 waiver to silo all the state agencies as required by the Federal government, what else should lawmakers do.
According to additional panel witness Mark Fagan, Thresholds' vice president of clinical operations and youth services, the further silo of several behavioral health agencies would create a “stronger handoff” in care and a steady funding stream that supports such a community-based service is vital.
“Thank you very much for your testimony, it was compelling,” Bellock said.