By: Sheryl Allenson (Volunteer) and Josefina Alvarez (Board President)

As the Illinois General Assembly goes back this year, we want to give you an update on laws related to mental health that became effective in 2020. Many of the new laws support youth mental health but others were passed to make it easier for Illinois residents to get care. 

  • The Illinois Department of Human Services is required to create and maintain an online database that provides mental health resources for students, school staff and parents. This information can be found here:
  • Another new law effective now requires school personnel to receive training at least every two years to identify the warning signs of mental illness and suicidal behavior in students. Training must include information on how to help students and make referrals. The legislation provides that school districts may use Mental Health First Aid taught by a certified instructor to fulfill training requirements.
  • Public colleges in Illinois are also now required to develop programs to address student mental health but the Governor needs to allocate funding before this law is implemented. With funding, this law would provide training to faculty staff and students, allow schools to expand services through partnerships with local mental health providers, develop peer support programs and receive technical assistance from a center to be established for this purpose. 
  • There is now an Office of Suicide Prevention within the Illinois Department of Public Health. This office will coordinate and evaluate suicide prevention efforts in the state, including a suicide awareness and screening program. The new law mandates the Office of Suicide Prevention to make annual report to the Governor and General Assembly on the state’s suicide prevention efforts. 
  • All insurance plans amended, issued, or renewed after December 31, 2020 are now required to fund coordinated specialty care for first episode psychosis in a child or young adult under age 26. Insurers must specifically cover coordinated specialty care for first episode psychosis, including assertive community treatment. 
  • Another law requires the Department of Insurance to develop a uniform electronic prior authorization form to be used by all plans that require prior authorization for prescription drug benefits. This form is expected to facilitate prescribing of medications that may not be covered without prior authorization.
  • A new law, introduced by Senator Laura Fine, requires all insurers to reimburse services provided through a collaborative care model, defined as a formal arrangement between a primary care team (provider and care manager) and a psychiatric consultant. This is an evidence-based care model that can make mental health care more accessible to more people. 

Now that the Illinois General Assembly is back in session and new bills are being introduced, we look forward to keeping you informed and will ask for your support of bills that support mental health. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with our advocacy alerts.

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