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Lightford: Incident at U.S. Rep. Davis’ office highlights the mental health crisis

lightford cps 012016CHICAGO- A woman walked into U.S. Rep. Danny Davis’ office yesterday, drank out of a bottle of hand sanitizer, poured the hand sanitizer on herself and used a lighter to set herself on fire. The unfortunate incident highlights the mental health crisis in our state and across the country.

“We need to fully fund our state’s mental health services,” said Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood). “The story about this woman inflicting pain on herself should move us to acknowledge and support solutions for the mental health issues so many people are struggling with.”

Under Governor Rauner’s administration mental health services have been cut by millions as the governor continues to push for the reduction and elimination of services. When Illinois cut mental health and addiction treatment services by $113 million between the 2009 and 2011 budget years, it cost the State $131.4 million in increased hospitalizations and institutionalizations.

“Cutting funding from programs that promote the health and wellness of Illinois residents is counterproductive,” Lightford said. “I plan on continuing to push for accessibility to mental health programs on the state and national level.”

This year, Lightford sponsored legislation that would mandate social and emotional screenings for children as a part of their school entry examinations. Senate Bill 565 is aimed at identifying potential mental health problems in school-age children, removing the stigma of mental illness and reducing teen suicide. That legislation is still pending in the House.

“Ignoring mental health issues can delay development and cause negative consequences throughout a child’s life,” Lightford said. “We should be finding ways to deal with these issues as early as possible.”

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