Statement on Mayor Lightfoot’s Budget and Mental Health Plan
Chicago, IL – Today, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot delivered a budget address in the midst of a challenging $838 million gap in the city’s budget. She outlined broad goals for addressing Chicago’s mental health infrastructure, affordable housing, and much more. We applaud the increased focus given to this pressing issue. Mental health and substance use treatment require comprehensive, holistic care that includes affordable housing, case management, and working broadly to address social challenges that affect health. When we address the most serious and complex cases effectively, in additional to saving lives, we save thousands of taxpayer dollars in decreased hospital and jail usage, 911 and police calls for behavioral health crises, and homeless services.
Mayor Lightfoot’s plan to make strategic investments in the hundreds of existing providers in our city is smart. It provides evidence-backed treatments, to the most people in the most neighborhoods, in a more cost-effective way, and works to address barriers to care and stigma. The city also aims to play a bigger role in system coordination and crisis response, which will help those in need of treatment find the right services quickly.
Increasing mental health and substance use treatment capacity at both community-based mental health providers and primary care locations like federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) can allow patients to more easily access care in neighborhoods throughout the city. Strong partnerships between FQHCs and community behavioral health providers like Thresholds can also lead to better outcomes.
While we applaud Mayor Lightfoot’s increase in funding for affordable housing, the need for affordable housing is immense, and additional investments will be needed in the future to adequately address this need. Too many vulnerable residents, especially those with mental health and substance use conditions, are unable to access safe, affordable housing that allows them to recover effectively.
Thresholds looks forward to working with our partners and Mayor Lightfoot to make these much-needed improvements in mental health, substance use treatment, and affordable housing in our city.