Senator Fine CHICAGO – Continuing the focus on building the behavioral health workforce in Illinois, Chairpersons of the Behavioral and Mental Health Committees, State Senator Laura Fine and State Representative Lindsey LaPointe convened the first of two joint Illinois House-Senate Behavioral and Mental Health Committee hearings Thursday. 

“The state of Illinois is working with mental health professionals who are enacting groundbreaking solutions to expanding the behavioral health workforce,” said Fine (D-Glenview). “It is crucial to hear directly from mental and behavioral health providers across the state to learn the progress of these programs and how future legislation can make the biggest impact.” 

Representatives of the Illinois Behavioral Health Workforce Development Center, a university partnership focused on making Illinois a national leader in supporting a robust system of behavioral health care providers, addressed the committee. Their testimony focused on the training programs being implemented to grow the workforce. They also talked about the roadblocks that need to be eliminated, including administrative burdens and gaps in Illinois’ mental health parity laws.

Professionals working in the field also testified. They outlined for committee members the systemic issues that limit providers' capacity to provide care to those in need, including administrative barriers, a lack of clinical training opportunities, burdensome licensing processes, disparities in pay between different types of behavioral health professionals and Medicaid reimbursement requirements. 

"Although we have made progress, there is still a tremendous amount of work that must be done in order to ensure that every resident in Illinois has access to quality, affordable mental health support,” said Fine. “These conversations are essential in paving our path forward.”

A second joint hearing focused on policy recommendations will be held in the coming weeks. It will be available to livestream on the Illinois General Assembly’s website.