Durbin announces $92 million for mental health and addiction programs in Illinois, with more on the way

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WMBD) — Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said Illinois has received $92 million in grants for mental health and substance abuse Friday, April 23, with more funds on the way.

It’s part of the America Rescue Plan passed last month, which allocated close to $4 billion in mental health and addiction treatment grants nationwide.

“There is no vaccine to protect against addiction and despair, but there are programs, treatments, and strategies that help,” he said.

Durbin said opioid overdoses in Illinois spiked nearly 60% during the first half of 2020 compared to the previous year.

“COVID-19 has made these epidemics worse. These epidemics feed on isolation and despair, and reduction and essential services. Like the coronavirus, mental issues and addiction can occur in any family, any neighborhood, any time.”

Jen McGowan-Tomke, chief operating officer of NAMI Chicago, a mental health advocacy group, said access to care in the mental health system has been neglected for a long time. She said 1 in 4 adults have a mental health condition, and 50% don’t receive any services.

“Before the pandemic hit, our communities have been in a state of perpetual mental health crisis said we have not invested in mental health systems in the same way as our physical health system,” she said.

Dr. Tom Britton, President & CEO of Gateway Foundation, an Illinois-based addiction treatment organization, said substance abuse was the “largest public health crisis” prior to COVID-19, and the pandemic made things worse.

“The nature of addiction is driven by isolation, and so we entered a time where people were not able to develop relationships in a regular way. It’s driven by trauma… helplessness, hopelessness, financial insecurities. In many ways it was the perfect storm,” he said.

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