Sen. Scott Bennett

SPRINGFIELD – Illinoisans will now have more access to mental and behavioral health specialists thanks to a law signed Friday supported by State Senator Scott Bennett.

“People living with mental health conditions often go without treatment because of the obstacles in place,” said Bennett (D-Champaign). “This new law breaks down those barriers and will help people access the care they need when they need it the most.”

In Illinois, there are only 14 behavioral health care professionals for every 10,000 Illinois residents. Many people are forced to wait longer for essential treatment or forego health care entirely because of this gap. This can be detrimental to their mental and physical well-being.

To address these issues, the new law focuses on expanding the current workforce. It accelerates the process for out-of-state clinicians applying for licensure in Illinois, as well as streamlines requirements for social workers, professional counselors, and clinical psychologists with licenses that have been inactive for five years. Additionally, it includes initiatives to support diversity in the mental health field, establishes tax credits, and includes many more provisions, all of which will encourage more quality, accessible care to those seeking assistance.

“It takes bravery and strength to reach out for help. Being told you have to wait weeks – or months – for care is extremely discouraging,” said State Senator Laura Fine (D-Glenview), the lead sponsor of the legislation. “We need to support people struggling with mental and behavioral health issues, as well as difficulties our mental health providers are facing trying to see as many patients as possible. This law will address both issues, and ensure that Illinoisans will have more access to quality mental health care.” 

The law, originally Senate Bill 3617, takes effect immediately.