fine 061022SPRINGFIELD – As more Illinoisans seek mental and behavioral health supports, a new law championed by State Senator Laura Fine (D-Glenview) is designed to ensure the workforce can meet the demands.  This workforce expansion bill was signed into law June 10, 2022.

“Mental health is just as important as physical health,” Fine said. “With this law, we are able to reduce barriers to improve the mental health workforce so that all who are seeking mental and behavioral health care will have access to this necessary care.” 

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 mental health care entirely because of this gap. This can be detrimental to their mental and physical well-being.

To address these issues, Senate Bill 3617 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 and establishes tax credits, 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,” Fine said. “We need to support people struggling with mental and behavioral health issues, as well as address difficulties our mental health providers are facing trying to see as many patients as possible. This law will work to fix both issues, and ensure that Illinoisans will have more access to quality mental health care.” 

Senate Bill 3617 was signed by the governor June 10, 2022 and takes effect immediately.