Thresholds’ Ron Otto, Director of Recovery, speaks at the Illinois House Human Services Appropriations Hearing
March 12, 2014–Today, Ron Otto, Thresholds’ Director of Recovery, spoke at Illinois House Human Services Appropriations Hearing on the state’s FY15 budget. He spoke about his own path towards recovery, and urged lawmakers to extend the tax increase so that Illinois can keep individuals out of institutions, maintain quality mental health recovery services, and move towards managed, coordinated healthcare for the people of Illinois.
Read his full remarks below.
My name is Ron Otto. I’m currently employed at Thresholds as Director of Recovery. I’m a person with a history of serious mental illness, now fully recovered largely because of the services I received at Thresholds.
I’ve resided in 2 Illinois IMDs. Thresholds helped me to move out of these institutions where I was denied the opportunity to recover, and to participate in and constructively contribute to society.
I moved into Thresholds housing where I learned independent living skills. I received psychiatric care and counseling that was recovery-oriented. I received help finding and maintaining employment. I received help to return to school where I earned an accounting degree that enabled me to start a career. I began to live a normal life and eventually, with these services and supports, I recovered. I now own a home, am happily married and enjoy a satisfying career.
I am not unlike thousands of others who have, with the right services and supports, achieved mental health recovery. The State’s investment in community-based mental health services has made a substantial difference in the lives of these individuals and the communities in which they live and work.
Illinois’ behavioral healthcare system is now moving toward integrated service delivery, managed and coordinated care, and Medicaid expansion. All these developments aimed at strengthening Illinois’ healthcare system demand that behavioral health agencies have the necessary resources and technology to reconfigure to meet these challenges.
Thresholds and our many partners have been very supportive of these developments and we are all leading the way as the State moves toward managed and coordinated care, but we do not have the resources and cannot do this under potential budget cuts that threaten the provision of even basic mental health recovery services for Illinois citizens, let alone the substantial resources required to move the State toward managed and coordinated healthcare.
It takes an investment in mental health recovery services in order for people to recover. Without that investment, people will be forced to return to institutions, becoming a major burden to the State and society.
I urge lawmakers to extend the tax increase so that Illinois can keep its citizens out of institutions, maintain quality mental health recovery services, and move successfully toward managed, coordinated healthcare for the people of Illinois.