5/20/21 - A Message from Secretary Hou: Bright Spot - DMH Team

Good Morning IDHS Staff,

I am excited to highlight the leadership provided by the IDHS Division of Mental Health as we celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month. Throughout a difficult year, they have demonstrated a commitment to providing innovative and timely services to meet the mental health and wellness needs of people across Illinois.

While the need has increased as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, providing quality mental health services across Illinois should always be a priority at IDHS. Examples of our commitment include our participation in the National Governor's Challenge to champion mental health support and preventative services for Veterans, the integration of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Racial Justice into our grant and funding review process, and creating the Call4Calm text line to support thousands of Illinoisans with emotional support during turbulent times.

As proclaimed by Governor Pritzker on May 3, May is Mental Health Awareness Month in Illinois. Amongst DMH's goals are reinforcing that positive mental health is essential for overall quality of life, supporting Illinoisans living with mental health disorders, and increasing awareness of emotional support resources for individuals impacted by the COVID- 19 pandemic, recent gun violence, and racially-motivated assaults.

Since launching on May 3, the Division of Mental Health (DMH) has used "Mental Health Mondays" to share educational information and resources on its website and on the IDHS Facebook and Twitter platforms. This past Monday, May 17th, the focus was on Black Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) Mental Health.

There are over 2,300 staff within DMH who support Illinoisans in accessing critical services including prevention, crisis intervention, treatment, recovery, and wellness services. Together these staff members play crucial role in providing direct care in IDHS' seven State-operated psychiatric hospitals and in the communities we serve.

In 2020, more than 156,000 individuals were served by 218 Certified Community Mental Health Centers that receive DMH funding. In the first year of Call4Calm, thousands of referrals were generated which allowed residents to get immediate access to the support they needed.

I would like to give special thanks to the DMH leadership team: David Albert (Director); Donell Barnett (Deputy Director for Clinical Operations); Lisa Betz (Deputy Director of Child and Adolescent Services), Sharon Coleman (Deputy Director of Forensic & Justice Services); Brock Dunlap (Deputy Director of Business Policy and Fiscal Operations); Beth Festa (Deputy Director of Systems Rebalancing); Teresa Glaze (Director of Social Work); Brad Hughes (Deputy Clinical Director for Inpatient Services); Meredith Kiss (Deputy Director of Hospital Administration): Nanette Larson (Deputy Director of Wellness & Recovery Services); Christine McLemore (Outgoing Chief of Staff); Beatriz Ponce de León (DMH Chief of Staff); Lee Ann Reinert (Deputy Director of Policy, Planning, and Innovation); Felix Rodriguez (Deputy Director of Regional Network Administration); and Ryan Rollinson (Deputy Director of Systems Rebalancing - Colbert Administrator).

If you are a State employee, know that the Employee Assistance Program is available for you: AFSCME members: (800) 647-8776; Other State employees: (866) 659-3848. You can also get immediate access with a Call4Calm Counselor by texting TALK to 552020 for English or HABLAR for Spanish. (Message and data rates may apply. For privacy details, click here.)



Grace B. Hou

Secretary, IDHS