Thresholds’ Statement in Response to Governor Pritzker’s Strategy to Invest in Critical Human Services

Governor JB Pritzker outlined his budget and policy priorities on Wednesday in his State of the State address before the Illinois General Assembly.  We commend the Governor for proposing deep investments in children’s behavioral healthcare, affordable housing, homeless prevention, crisis response services, anti-poverty programs, childcare, and other critical human services.

“Governor Pritzker’s proposed investments are smart and compassionate and will help improve Illinois’ mental health and substance use treatment system even more,” said Mark Ishaug, Thresholds CEO. “We look forward to collaborating with elected officials to ensure a budget passes that advances equal access to care that all Illinoisans deserve.”

The Governor doubled down on his commitment to improve access to children’s behavioral healthcare after creating the Children’s Behavioral Health Initiative last year.  In this year’s proposal, he committed to include $10 million in funding for a care portal to make it easier for families to navigate our siloed state behavioral health system. The Governor also proposed increasing services for children at risk of entering the child welfare or juvenile systems by $10 million.

Investing in children’s behavioral health services is more important now than ever as rates of depression and anxiety have increased dramatically in youth. According to a recent report by the U.S. Surgeon General, rates of depression in youth doubled during the COVID-19 pandemic, and Black and Latino youth in low-income families are at greater risk of experiencing mental health challenges but less likely to have access to timely care.

In addition, the Governor announced a $50 million investment in a new program called Home Illinois to address the challenges faced by the more than 120,000 individuals experiencing homelessness in the state. Black individuals are eight times more likely to experience homelessness than white individuals.

Thresholds applauds the Governor’s and the General Assembly’s continued commitment to strengthen access to mental health and substance use services, address the workforce crisis, and find real solutions to poverty and homelessness in Illinois.

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