Advocacy and Public Policy at Thresholds

Access to treatment, harm reduction services, affordable housing, and meaningful employment opportunities are human rights for individuals living with serious mental health or substance use conditions. Thresholds fights for racial, social, economic, and health equity for individuals living with mental health and substance use conditions, particularly for individuals marginalized by systemic barriers to care.

Policy Priorities

Improving Access to Mental Health and Substance Use Care 

Mental health and substance use treatment can stabilize symptoms, promote wellness, and enable a high quality of life. Too many Illinoisans experience preventable hospitalizations, challenges in school or work, criminalization, overdose, or suicide because of a lack of access to support.

  • Early and continuing treatment must be available at the first signs of a condition.
  • Increased Medicaid investment in treatment and recovery services is crucial to growing access.
  • Addressing the social determinants of health is an essential and integral component of care.
Recent Legislative Wins or Current Advocacy Efforts
Investing in Substance Use Harm Reduction

Services that use a Harm Reduction approach are rooted in human rights, kindness, and compassion.  Harm reduction is focused on saving lives, protecting health, and promoting dignity for people who use drugs (PWUD).  Thresholds advocates for solutions that engage people wherever they are in their path to recovery.

  • Programs must promote self-determination.
  • Life-saving practices such as syringe exchanges, naloxone distribution, Medication Assisted Treatment/Recovery (MAT/R), must be accessible to all.
  • Overdose Prevention Sites will save lives by creating a safe place to use drugs, offering emergency interventions, and linking PWUD to healthcare and community resources.

Creating Equity and Fighting Structural Racism 

Black, Indigenous and Other People of Color (BIPOC) are disproportionately impacted by a lack of access to treatment in their communities. They are less likely to receive medication or therapy for a mental health or substance use condition, and more likely to experience criminalization related to their condition than are white individuals. Thresholds works to fight structural racism and create equity in access to care and other support services.

  • Substantial public resources should be redirected from public safety into treatment, support services, and harm reduction approaches in BIPOC communities.
  • Investment in crisis response models that involve mental health and substance use support professionals must be a federal, state, and local priority.
  • Decriminalization of drugs is crucial to halting mass incarceration for substance use, saving lives by ensuring a safe supply, and redirecting criminal legal system dollars into treatment.

Increasing Access to Affordable Housing and Employment Opportunities 

A lack of access to safe, affordable housing and employment opportunities for people experiencing serious mental health or substance use conditions results in homelessness and criminalization. Housing is healthcare. Employment, volunteerism and other vocational opportunities give individuals purpose and hope in life, while also providing economic stability.  

  • Increased public investment in safe, affordable housing is crucial to address the social determinants of health and to prevent criminalization.
  • Illinois must develop pathways for employment opportunities for people with serious mental health or substance use conditions and for individuals with criminal backgrounds related to their condition.

Recent Legislative Wins or Current Advocacy Efforts