NAMI Illinois pledges support for IDHS plans for mental health services in the south metropolitan area

9/18/2008

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 17, 2008

CONTACT:

Tom Green (IDHS) 217/558.1538

Marielle Sainvilus (IDHS)  312/814.8199

Consumer advocacy groups playing crucial role in Illinois' mental health future

CHICAGO - As the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) Division of Mental Health moves forward with its new vision for mental health services, it will depend heavily on support from consumers, families and mental health advocacy groups. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI Illinois) has pledged its support for the plans announced by IDHS last week. The plans call for a system of community-based care anchored by a new, state-of-the-art hospital in the Southland area comprising southern Cook, Will, Grundy and Kankakee counties. The current Tinley Park Mental Health Center would be replaced by mid to late 2010.

"The changes happening at the Tinley Park campus are the first steps toward a wider reliance on home- and community-based care, which experts agree is more effective and less expensive than care within an institution," said Grace Hou, assistant secretary of IDHS.

The new, state-of-the-art hospital will provide acute mental health care for individuals living in the Southland area, one of the fastest-growing regions of Illinois. IDHS has worked closely with local and statewide stakeholder groups during the past and encourages their continued participation in the planning and decision-making processes regarding the Tinley Park transition actions and the new hospital.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Illinois has pledged its support of the IDHS plans. "With all of the research, innovations and advances in mental health recovery, IDHS' plans have the potential to favorably impact hospitalizations throughout Illinois," said Lora Thomas, executive director of NAMI Illinois. "We support a system where upon discharge from the hospital, individuals can readily access recovery-oriented, evidence-based practices and services that fully support the individual's treatment plan."

In the next several weeks, IDHS will hold additional meetings with various stakeholder groups, including meetings with Tinley Park Mental Health Center leadership and staff; consumers, family and mental health advocates; labor officials; public officials; leadership and staff at the Chicago Read and Madden centers; and others. Public meetings also will be scheduled to gain community input on the issue.

"IDHS sought in the past input from these advocacy groups, as well as from consumers and families who receive care at our facilities. Now we urge our supporters and other mental health advocates to participate in public forums during the next few months where we will further discuss our exciting plans for Chicago's Southland," said IDHS Division of Mental Health director Lorrie Rickman Jones, Ph.D.

Consumers will continue to receive the same level of inpatient services at the Tinley Park Mental Health Center during an expected two-year transition period. However, there will be revised, streamlined admitting patterns at Tinley Park until the new hospital opens as part of a public-private partnership with a professional provider of mental health care services. The projected opening date is mid to late 2010.

Last week, IDHS announced the Tinley Park Mental Health Center will temporarily move all services into one building on the campus on or about July 2009. Additionally at that time, a portion of the bed capacity will be moved to two other Chicagoland state mental health centers and private hospital psychiatric inpatient units.

This restructuring plan for Tinley Park Mental Health Center provides an opportunity to improve the quality of care and safety of Illinoisans with mental health needs. The plan builds on community stakeholder input that began in 2004.

The statement from NAMI Illinois is included with this release.

National Alliance on Mental Illness - NAMI logo

For additional information, contact:

Lora Thomas - (217) 522-1403

Re. Tinley Park Mental Health Center

NAMI Illinois, the Illinois state office of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, has recently been apprised of transition plans that will affect individuals with mental illnesses, and their families in areas served by Tinley Park Mental Health Center. Transitions from the current location to a new, state of the art mental health care facility are scheduled to take place over the next two year period. NAMI Illinois and local NAMI affiliates have been invited to work with the Division of Mental Health and other stakeholders to plan transitions that will not harm individuals and their families and will ultimately result in a new facility in the south suburban area of Chicago. We look forward to engaging in this planning process. With all of the research, innovations and advances in mental health recovery, this concept has the potential to favorably impact hospitalizations throughout Illinois.

In 2005, the Division of Mental Health effectively convened a stakeholder's planning group regarding Tinley Park services. They have once again stated their intent to recreate an inclusive planning process, with appropriate community involvement that includes individuals with mental illnesses, their families, service providers and interested parties in the community. We understand those stakeholder meetings will assist in planning and oversight of the entire restructuring process. NAMI, along with other interested parties, stands ready to engage in and support planning that can bring recovery-oriented services and supports to Illinois.

To effectively meet the needs of individuals with mental illnesses, their families and the communities they live in, an entire spectrum of health care must be in place. Those individuals who require hospitalization are among Illinois' most vulnerable citizens. NAMI remains focused on a vision that supports optimal treatments and services that are provided in an atmosphere of respect, acceptance and hope. And as advocates for community-based services and supports, where the majority of individuals are served, we support a system where upon discharge from the hospital, individuals can readily access recovery-oriented, evidence-based practices and services that fully support the individual's treatment plan.

As in all of life's endeavors, the devil's in the detail. Illinois' mental health system remains overburdened and under funded. We must work together, especially at this point in time, to make sure that in all of our planning, we keep people first, and assist them in to and through the journey called recovery. Careful planning is critical to the overall process and long term outcomes of Illinois' mental health system. NAMI remains eager to engage in planning for optimal outcomes for those individuals and families served through Illinois' mental health system.