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McLean County Mental Health Programs Start To Take Shape

McLean County Health Department sign
The building at 200 W. Front St. in Bloomington which houses the McLean County Health Department will also house the county's mental health triage.

McLean County is ramping up funding for mental health services as several new programs begin to take shape.
The County Board next week will consider spending $1.7 million on mental health services next year, for various programs including telepsychiatry, FUSE (frequent user systems engagement), and a mental health triage.

The County Board Executive Committee signed off on the funding as part of the 2020 budget proposal. The county’s mental health initiatives are funded through a sales tax which Bloomington and Normal collect.

Behavioral Health Coordinating Council Supervisor Trisha Malott said much of the funding helps with startup costs.

“(The) 2020 (budget) does spend a little bit more than what our quarter for any one year would be, but we also believe it is important to get these programs up and running,” Malott said.

McLean County is also looking to start an outpatient services program for adolescents by next spring. The county plans to devote $250,000 toward the project. The United Way is helping to fund that program with a matching grant.

The county is seeking financial and in-kind contributions from Advocate BroMenn Medical Center and OSF St. Joseph Medical Center to help defray the costs.

Malott said the program helping young adults’ transition from psychiatric hospitalization back into the community is sorely needed.

“Recognizing there’s a big gap in that range and that adolescents return to the community from psychiatric hospitalization without enough supports in place and they may return to school and struggle in that environment,” Malott said.

Malott said the county wound provide funding to agencies in the community that could apply to provide care to help 13- to 18-year-olds transition back into the community from psychiatric hospitalization.

Malott said the FUSE program is still getting up to full staffing but has started to identify frequent users. She said the triage that’s being set up at 200 W. Front St. should be ready to open by the end of the year.

Tax Money Collected

The county has collected close to $11.4 million dollars in sales taxes for mental health programs so far, but only a portion of that money is being spent now.

Camille Rodriguez
Credit Ryan Denham / WGLT
McLean County Administrator Camille Rodriguez said the county is preparing for potentially large and still undefined costs in its criminal justice system that it funds with sales tax dollars allotted to behavioral health, including overhauling the county's electronic justice system.

County Administrator Camille Rodriguez said a portion of that funding must be held back to address long-term needs, including a potential overhaul of the county's electronic justice system which is more than 20 years old.

“It is in need of an upgrade to keep up with technology and servers, so that is one of the priority areas,” Rodriguez said.

The county recently hired a consultant to examine the electronic justice system. Rodriguez said the county doesn’t have a clear picture of how much an overhaul would cost, noting the current system installed in the 1990s cost about $12 million.

The sales tax dollars also pays for debt service on the McLean County jail expansion and operating costs for expanded criminal justice services.

The funding also covers marketing and staging for the county's annual behavioral health community forum, which has increased from 100 attendees in 2017 to 286 in 2019.

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Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.