Mental health services jeopardized by Illinois budget

Clients and employees of Metropolitan Family Services rally at the Thompson Center on May 13, 2014 to protest budget cuts to mental health programs.

Photo by Grace Donnelly

Clients and employees of Metropolitan Family Services rally at the Thompson Center on May 13, 2014 to protest budget cuts to mental health programs.

Note: This feature is part of a series that looks at the impact of state budget cuts on social services in Illinois. Today’s edition features Metropolitan Family Services.

The group: Metropolitan Family Services

What it does: It provides education, emotional wellness, economic stability and empowerment services to more than 67,000 people. This State Budget Watch focuses on the proposed elimination of state Department of Human Services grants to Metropolitan for psychiatric care provided by medical professionals and medication for uninsured consumers.

Amount of cut: Metropolitan faces the loss of a $379,000 psychiatric care grant, which would lead to layoffs of up to 5 doctors and psychiatric nurses, according to agency officials. The ripple effect on other fee-based programs would result in an erosion of $3.6 million in billing, negatively impacting thousands of clients. The agency also could lose $113,000 in medication funding for 43 uninsured clients in Southeast Chicago who have no other means for paying for medication, officials say.

Percentage of state budget: .0015%

Andrew Wade, spokesman for Metropolitan Family Services:You can’t operate a mental health program without access to medical professionals who are trained in psychiatry. You can’t take the medical piece out.”

“The whole community mental health system statewide is facing a $86 million hole. They aren’t just trimming; some budget lines are being eliminated wholesale. People need to understand what the consequences are — we have a whole list of services at risk right now. There doesn’t seem like there is a plan to fund mental health. It seems like a plan to de-fund mental health.”