Peters and J.B.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs a pair of bills aiming to increase access to mental health resources in Illinois.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has been steadily acting on more than 660 bills sent to him by the General Assembly this year ahead of a weekend deadline for bill action.

On Aug. 25, he signed House Bill 2784 to create a mental health first responder system in coordination with an emergency mental and behavioral health phone system that was created by federal law.

Local state Sen. Robert Peters (D-13th) carried the bill in the General Assembly's upper chamber.

“Our goal as public servants must be to provide treatment, not trauma,” he said in a statement. “Trained mental health officials responding to mental health emergencies is how we provide that treatment. The alternative is how we risk furthering trauma.”

The Division of Mental Health of the state’s Department of Human Services is preparing to coordinate mental and behavioral health services to all Illinoisans as part of the federally mandated adoption of the 9-8-8 phone number. The number is expected to go online by July 2022.

The new law will require 9-1-1 call center operators to coordinate with the mobile mental and behavioral health services that are being established through the Division of Mental Health, which is also establishing regional advisory committees in each Emergency Medical Services region.

The law is the first statewide measure of its kind in the country, after some local local jurisdictions implemented similar measures. “When you call an emergency number for a mental health emergency, you should be able to get a trained mental health response, and starting today, you will,” Peters said.

Pritzker also signed HB 2595, which, beginning in 2023, requires insurers to provide coverage to all medically necessary mental health care in Illinois, including for mental, emotional, nervous or substance use disorders.

Pritzker has signed more than 570 bills thus far and vetoed a handful.

The governor has 60 days from when he received the bills from the General Assembly to either sign or veto them, after which time period the bill becomes law even without his signature.

For the bills that are vetoed, lawmakers will return in the fall to consider overrides or acceptance of the governor’s changes.

Most of the remaining 82 bills were sent to him at the end of June, so the 60-day clock coincides with the end of this week for all but a few of them.

Herald staff contributed. Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

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