$30 Million Increase for Illinois Mental Crisis Services Included in New State Budget

(Springfield, IL) – The state budget approved by Illinois lawmakers last week included important behavioral health funding increases, according to one of Illinois’ top advocacy groups.

The Illinois General Assembly approved legislation, SB1298, that increased Illinois Medicaid rates for a range of mental health services delivered by community mental health providers, an increase that totaled approximately $30 million. Mobile crisis response, crisis intervention, integrative assessment and treatment planning, among other services, will see a financial boost from the state.

“The Community Behavioral Healthcare Association would like to thank the Pritzker Administration, State Senators Elgie Sims, Laura Fine, Sara Feigenholtz, House Majority Leader Robyn Gabel, and State Rep. Lindsey LaPointe for prioritizing investments in expanding access to essential mental health and substance use services for children, adults, and families,” said Community Behavioral Healthcare Association CEO Blanca Campos.

“The increased funding will help prevent suicide, offer support to those in crisis, and help thousands of other individuals to return to work and enable them to care for their families as productive members of their communities,” Campos added. 

In addition to mental health Medicaid rate increases, residential and inpatient substance use disorder treatment services will receive a 30 percent rate boost. The rate increases are slated to begin on January 1, 2024, subject to federal government approval.


Sen Sims, Reps Harris, Conroy to Be Honored for Behavioral Health Leadership

(Springfield, Illinois) – One of Illinois’ top behavioral health advocacy groups will honor three leading Illinois lawmakers for their “steadfast support” and multiple state behavioral health industry leaders with leadership awards next week.

The Community Behavioral Health Association of Illinois (CBHA) will bestow its prestigious “2022 Legislator of the Year” award on Senator Elgie Sims (D-Chicago) and House Majority Leader Greg Harris (D-Chicago) and its “Behavioral Health Champion” award on State Rep. Deb Conroy (D-Villa Park) at the group’s 50th Anniversary Celebration and Winter Conference at the Drake Hotel in Chicago on December 5.

“Senator Sims, Leader Harris, and Rep. Conroy’s steadfast support for children, youth, and adults living with mental health or substance use disorders, and their leadership in the General Assembly on behalf of safety-net, behavioral healthcare providers, easily earned the lawmakers our ‘Legislator of the Year’ and ‘Behavioral Health Champion’ awards,” said Community Behavioral Health Association CEO Blanca Campos. “We are proud to recognize them.”

In addition to the lawmakers, CBHA will also recognize other leaders in the Illinois behavioral health sector.

The Ellen T. Quinn Memorial Award will be given to Bruce Sewick and Gloria Martin.

Sewick has recently retired on July 29, 2022, from his position as the CEO of Leyden Family Service and the SHARE Program after 26 years of dedication to the individuals and communities that agency serves. Martin began her employment with Sinnissippi Centers on September 4th, 1972. Other than a brief hiatus during which she was a stay-at-home mom, Gloria has been employed with Sinnissippi for over 48 years. 

The Frank Anselmo Lifetime Achievement Award will be given to George Hovanec.

Hovanec has served four Illinois Governor’s in the areas of state finance and health care policy, starting with Governor James Thompson. He served as Deputy Director of the Bureau of the Budget, twice as the state Medicaid Director, and as the Acting Director of the then-Department of Public Aid. He has consulted with CBHA for over 20 years and the Anne and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital.

The new Marvin Lindsey Behavioral Health Innovator Award will be given to its namesake, Marvin Lindsey.

Lindsey retired on July 1, 2022, after over thirty years of dedicated service to the field of behavioral health, which included the last six years as CEO of CBHA. Lindsey also served on multiple state government task forces and advisory committees, such as the Behavioral Health Workforce Education Center Task Force, Illinois Medicaid Advisory Committee, Illinois Substance Use Disorder Advisory Council, the Department of Human Services Social Advisory Committee, and Community Advisory Council on Homelessness.

The legislators and other honorees will receive their awards in-person at the Community Behavioral Health Association’s 50th Anniversary Celebration and Winter Conference at the Drake Hotel on December 5th.  The awards portion of the program begins at 12:00 p.m.

$636,000 Awarded to Boost IL Children’s Mental Health Workforce

(Springfield, IL) – One of Illinois’ top behavioral health advocacy groups has awarded $636,000 to multiple Illinois community children’s mental health providers to help the agencies boost their workforce.

The Community Behavioral Health Association of Illinois (CBHA) today announced that six mental health providers will each receive a total of $106,000 over two years to fund clinical supervision and a stipend for eight, second year master’s degree-level interns.  Funding will also support enhanced supervision for two early career clinicians to improve the clinical skills of staff and enhance the quality of services to youth and families seeking services.

“Community providers across Illinois are experiencing record high staff vacancies, intensified by the COVID pandemic, which have created ballooning waitlists and dramatically decreased access to children’s mental health services,” said CBHA CEO Blanca Campos.

“Additionally, behavioral health interns and new graduates are less prepared than ever to meet the complex needs of youth and families receiving services and require more intensive training and supervision, so our grant program aims to create a workforce pipeline model to provide a concrete approach to training a 21st Century children’s behavioral health workforce,” Campos said.

The CBHA grant will fund a clinical supervisor for each of the six providers to provide clinical supervision and training to four interns and two or more additional license eligible clinicians.

The selected agencies will also participate in an independent evaluation and two learning community sessions each year to determine the extent to which the grant resources have an impact on the training culture of the organizations, according to Campos.

The awardees of the grant, which is funded through the IL Children’s Healthcare Foundation and Polk Bros Foundation, include Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago, Centerstone IL of West Frankfort, The Josselyn Center of Waukegan, The Kedzie Center of Chicago, Presence Behavioral Health/Nazareth Community Mental Health Center of Chicago, and Sinnissippi Centers of Dixon.

Grant to address “inequity.”“Many students in behavioral health disciplines, particularly those from low-income families, are unable to afford to fulfil the 1,000 unpaid hours to complete an internship thus decreasing the diversity and availability of the workforce,” said Campos. “There is an inherent inequity in the current internship process, so the awardees of the CBHA training grant will include an equity component to assure that qualified interns may also be drawn from low-income families and communities of color.”

CBHA Policy VP Blanca Campos Earns Prestigious Professional Association Credential

(Springfield, IL) – Blanca Campos, CBHA’s Vice President of Policy & Government Affairs and incoming CEO, has earned the prestigious Certified Association Executive (CAE) credential through a certification program sponsored by the American Society of Association Executives.

The CAE is the highest professional credential in the trade association industry. 

Blanca received word from the accrediting body, the National Commission for Certifying Agencies, last Thursday, June 16, that she had passed the rigorous 4-hour exam.

“The CAE credential recognizes that an association professional has demonstrated the range of knowledge essential to manage a trade association in today’s challenging environment,” said CBHA CEO Marvin Lindsey. “I am deeply proud of Blanca’s achievement because the credential places an official seal on her daily demonstrated professionalism here at CBHA.”

To be designated as a Certified Association Executive, an applicant must have experience with nonprofit organization management, complete a minimum of 100 hours of specialized professional development, pass a stringent examination in association management, and pledge to uphold a code of ethics. To maintain certification, individuals must undertake ongoing professional development and activities in association and nonprofit management. 

There are currently only 4,700 CAEs across the world.


CBHA Taps Policy & Government Affairs V.P. Blanca Campos as C.E.O.

(Springfield, IL) – The Community Behavioral Healthcare Association of Illinois [CBHA] has tapped the group’s current public policy chief, Blanca Campos, to be its new C.E.O., and the first Latina to lead the association, starting on July 1, 2022.

Campos who has served as the organization’s Vice President of Policy and Government Affairs since 2016, replaces its current C.E.O., Marvin Lindsey, who is retiring.

“Extraordinary grace and strength.”

“In her five and a half years as CBHA’s vice president, Blanca has successfully helped steer multiple, high priority legislative initiatives through the Illinois General Assembly, such as expansion of telehealth services, creation of a behavioral health workforce center, and a historic behavioral health funding increase in 2022, totaling $170 million in new money annually,” said Lindsey. “Blanca’s mastery of behavioral health policy and the legislative process, her passionate commitment to our clients, and her extraordinary grace and strength make her an ideal C.E.O.”

Campos, who served as the Chief Operating Officer of Advocacy for the Chicago-based Small Business Advocacy Council for seven-years prior to joining CBHA in 2016, says “leadership” and “education” are key to ensuring policy makers maintain behavior healthcare as a priority.

“As a C.E.O., it is necessary to provide both leadership, guidance, and advocacy for providers and consumers and simultaneously to educate lawmakers and state officials on community behavioral health needs and services,” said Campos, a NAMI Illinois board member. “My commitment is to follow Marvin Lindsey’s successful leadership model of working collaboratively with coalitions and other stakeholders in the building of an effective, coordinated, and adequately funded community behavioral health care system.”

Outside of CBHA, Campos, who holds a Master’s in Public Administration from DePaul University, has been since 2019 a Diversity Executive Leadership Program (DELP) scholar of the American Society of Association Executives, which supports individuals from under-represented identity groups to advance into the ranks of leadership in the association management profession. She is also a member of the Association Forum Latinx Advisory Group and Health & Medicine’s IL ACEs Response Collaborative Advisory Council.


Advocates: “Historic” $140 Million Mental Health, Addiction Care Funding Boost in Pritzker Budget

(Springfield, IL) – Governor JB Pritzker today proposed his fourth budget since taking office in 2019, a budget that included a $140 million investment in Illinois’ behavioral healthcare workforce.

“The Community Behavioral Healthcare Association applauds and appreciates Governor Pritzker for including in his proposed Fiscal Year 2023 budget the legislative funding initiative proposed by House Majority Leader Greg Harris and State Senator Elgie Sims, which has been championed by the Community Behavioral Healthcare Association and the Rebuild Illinois Behavioral Health Workforce Coalition, that would invest $140 million to rebuild Illinois behavioral health workforce,” said Community Behavioral Healthcare Association CEO Marvin Lindsey. “Governor Pritzker’s budget represents a historic financial investment in the care for individuals working to overcome mental health and substance use challenges.”

Illinois fiscal year begins on July 2, 2022.

The General Assembly is expected to approve a budget by its scheduled April 8 adjournment.


CBHA Adds Racial Equity to ‘Treatment Plan’ Agenda

(Springfield, IL) – Commemorating the close of Black History Month, the Community Behavioral Health Association of Illinois is officially adding “racial equity” to our ‘treatment plan’ agenda.

“The popular belief, ‘Knowing is not enough, we must do’, is what motivates the Community Behavioral Healthcare Association and its members to take a very direct and focused approach in making significant change in the areas of race, equity and social justice,” said Julie Rodriguez, Chair of the CBHA Committee on Race, Equity and Social Justice. “Together we will take the critically needed steps to fully realize our CBHA vision, which is to ensure an accessible, consumer and family responsive, efficient, effective, fully unified and principled healthcare system.”

“Equity” and “inclusion” will become additional and essential elements of the trade association’s advocacy agenda.

“The Community Behavioral Healthcare Association is committing itself to advocating for policy and culture changes, which will promote equity and inclusion,” said Theresa Nihill, Board President of CBHA.  “Our next steps will be to create and implement a plan of action that will be adopted by the CBHA Board of Directors.”

Eliminating “disparities” in public health will be the chief policy goal.

“One of the main tenets of public health is to limit and eliminate disparities,” said CBHA CEO Marvin Lindsey. “Viewing racism as a public health crisis will help us to focus on the impact it has on the physical, mental and spiritual health of people and communities and develop solutions and strategies to prevent and improve systems.”

As a key first step, the Springfield-based advocacy group has crafted a “Race Equity and Social Justice Statement” to help guide their advocacy at the state capitol:

As we come to the end of Black History Month 2021, our association is very much aware that each year certain vestiges of the past are carried into each new year- some good, some bad. Unfortunately, the lingering legacy of embeddedsystemic and structural discrimination faced daily by racially and ethnically diverse communities will continue into the new year. It has never been clearer that racism has a profound impact on the mental and physical health of individuals and their communities, and This is Why We Must continue to lend our voice and actions to fairness, dignity, and respect for ALL People.  

 The CBHA Board of Directors established the CBHA Committee on Race, Equity and Social Justice to ensure that our association continues our focused work on speaking out against and working to change the policies, systems, culture, and institutions that have continued to allow and, in many cases, actively perpetuate the discriminatory practices that result in mistreatment, mass-incarceration, exclusion, health disparities, poverty and sometimes, murder of Black and Latinx men, women and children in our society. 

Our association supports the position of the American Medical Association and a growing list of other institutions, states and  municipalities – including Cook, Lake and Peoria Counties in Illinois- that view racism as a public health crisis. 

Common elements in the declarations and resolutions of the above entities include: 

  • acknowledging the effects of intergenerational racism on population health, especially anti-Black racism, 
  • assessing governments’ internal policies and procedures with a racial equity lens, 
  • advocating for laws and regulations that center and promote racial equity, 
  • ensuring inclusivity and diversity in leadership, workforce, hiring and contracting,  
  • promoting educational efforts and support the development of policy to address and dismantle racism, 
  • identifying clear goals and objectives, including specific benchmarks to assess progress and,
  • securing adequate resources for anti-racism activities.

As community mental health and substance use agencies across Illinois, the members of CBHA are committed to diversity, equity, inclusion and justice in the work we do collectively and as individual organizations. We feel obligated to call out racism as a public health issue that is wrecking lives and communities across Illinois. 

For example, “In 312 of the 326 Illinois school districts where disparities could be calculated, black students were at least twice as likely to be disciplined as white students. In 59 districts, black students were more than 10 times as likely to be disciplined.” ProPublica

The COVID-19 pandemic has spotlighted racial and ethnic disparities in access to behavioral health care. While their rates of behavioral health disorders may not significantly differ from the general population, Blacks and Latinos have substantially lower access to mental health and substance-use treatment services as shown below. (NSDUH, 2020).

Black and African American people are more often diagnosed with schizophrenia and less often diagnosed with mood disorders compared to white people with the same symptoms and that can lead to inappropriate treatment.Additionally, they are offered medication or therapy at lower rates than the general population. NPR Illinois.

Blacks and Latinos have limited access to prevention, treatment, and recovery services for substance use disorders. While they have similar rates of opioid misuse as the general population, in recent years Blacks have experienced the greatest increase in rate for overdose deaths from non-methadone synthetic opioids (SAMHSA, 2020).

Black women are up to four times more likely to die of pregnancy related complications than white women.

The root causes of racism are active and systemic, so our solutions must be as well. CBHA is committed to deepening the community’s understanding of racism and the actions we can take individually and collectively to recognize and disrupt bias, challenge our own norms and practices, and support other organizations in doing the same.

Marvin Lindsey, Mlindsey@cbha.net

As Budget Axe Looms, 82,000 Added to Illinois Mental Health, Addiction Treatment Rolls

(Springfield, IL) –  As Governor JB Pritzker and Illinois lawmakers grapple with a $3.9 billion budget gap, the state’s Medicaid rolls in 2020 have “exploded” with an estimated 82,000 additional people with mental health or addiction problems enrolling in the federal/state healthcare plan, according to a top behavioral health advocacy group.

According to the latest data available for Illinois Medicaid enrollees, as of November 2020, Illinois had 2,536,996 people enrolled compared to 2,126,493 in December 2019, an increase of 410,503 individuals or a 19.3% jump.

The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services has a standard measure that one-in-five Medicaid enrollees have behavioral health issues, a measure which yields approximately 82,100 new clients with mental health or addiction treatment needs in 2020, according to Community Behavioral Health Care Association CEO Marvin Lindsey.

“Statewide, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Medicaid caseload has exploded, and community behavioral health providers have also witnessed an exploding caseload, sometimes as much as 30 to 40% at local agencies,” said Lindsey. “With 82,000 new behavioral clients seeking care, Governor Pritzker and lawmakers need to be thinking about how they can help us financially to meet the overwhelming demand for services not hurt us with budget cuts.”

To provide context to the surging caseload in 2020, Lindsey noted that in the comparable period of December 2018 to November 2019, Illinois Medicaid rolls actually dropped from 2,168,091 to 2,126,493 or a 1.2% decline.

Meanwhile, the Illinois opioid crisis for example remains a crisis, with a record number of overdoses in 2020, Lindsey notes.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health data, opioid overdose deaths rose 36.5% in the first five months of 2020 from 197 deaths in January to 269 deaths.

The increasing number of suicides across the state also demand immediate action. For example, DuPage County saw a 23% increase in the first 6 months of 2020, while Cook County’s Black Community experienced 71 suicides in the first 9 months of 2020, compared to 56 in all of 2019.

“COVID has caused an avalanche of cases to crash into a chronically underfunded, understaffed state behavioral system further brutalized financially during the budget impasse years, said Lindsey. “The ‘doing more with less’ ship has sailed, so what we need now, more than ever, is sustainable investments by the state in community-based mental health and substance use services to fight the unyielding opioid epidemic and mental health crisis that continues to rage havoc in families and communities across Illinois.”


Dr. Ngozi Ezike to Be Honored with “Exceptional Leadership” Award at Behavioral Health Conference

(Springfield, IL) – Illinois Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike will receive an award next week honoring her COVID-19 “leadership” by a top state behavioral health advocacy group.

Ezike is slated to receive the “Exceptional Leadership and Impact Award” from the Community Behavioral Healthcare Association of Illinois’ at the group’s 48th annual virtual conference on Tuesday, December 8.

“Since March 2020, Dr. Ezike, has been a constant presence in living rooms across Illinois through her almost daily press conferences to educate millions of residents on both the toll exacted by the coronavirus and the safety measures needed to fight the disease,” said CBHA CEO Marvin Lindsey. “Dr. Ezike’s guidance and leadership has been responsible for helping to save the lives of tens of thousands here in Illinois, so our decision to bestow CBHA’s Exceptional Leadership and Impact Award on Dr. Ezike was both easy and unanimous.”

Dr. Ezike will receive the honor before an expected 200 CBHA attendees and address the gathering at approximately 9:00 a.m.

The CBHA conference, whose theme this year is “Reset, Reimagine, Reshape,” runs from December 7 through December 8.


Lt. Gov. Stratton Delivers Opening Remarks at Behavioral Health Conference

(Springfield, IL) – Illinois Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton kicks off the annual conference of a top state behavioral health advocacy group on Monday, December 7.

Stratton gives the opening remarks at the Community Behavioral Healthcare Association of Illinois’ 48th annual, two-day, virtual conference.

“Both as a state lawmaker and as Lt. Governor, Stratton has been a faithful ally and champion for improving access to mental health and substance abuse care and for fighting to end the opioid epidemic,” said CBHA CEO Marvin Lindsey. “Having Lt. Governor Stratton open our annual conference is as appropriate as much as it is an honor.”

Stratton, who represented Chicago’s 5th District in the Illinois House, and who is the first African American to hold the Lt. Governor post, currently co-chairs the Opioid Prevention and Recovery Steering Committee.

At approximately 9:10 a.m., Stratton will speak to more than 200 people expected to attend the CBHA conference. 

This year, the conference theme is “Reset, Reimagine, Reshape.” The CBHA conference runs from December 7 through December 8.