Pritzker Signs Legislation Increasing Mental Health Workforce In Illinois

By Frank Conklin, The Chicago Times

June 12, 2022

SPRINGFIELD, IL — Governor Pritzker signed Senate Bill 3617 on Friday which is hoped to address the shortage of mental health professionals in Illinois and increase access to high-quality mental health services across the State.

According to the Governor’s Office “The bill temporarily allows professional licensees out of practice for less than five years to reactivate their license with the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR). The bill also seeks to expand behavioral health training, incentivizes the hiring of individuals in recovery from substance use disorder or mental illness, and makes it easier for advanced practice registered nurses to treat patients.”

“We need a mental healthcare workforce that is robust enough to get people help when they need it—not after months on a waiting list.  I am proud to sign this mental health omnibus bill—training, expanding, and diversifying our behavioral health workforce—into law. This legislation invests in mental health infrastructure—and that infrastructure is people. Our therapists. Our social workers. Our crisis counselors. There is nothing more important than investing in the people who support the health and wellbeing of Illinoisans.” Pritzker said in a statement.

The bill will eliminate barriers to those wishing to re-enter the mental health workforce, such as continuing education credit completion, passing additional examinations, and fee payments.  However, former license holder must be in good standing to have their licenses reactivated. Mental health professionals out of practice for less than five years may restore their license with IDFPR.  The bill enables advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) and physicians to conduct any required psychiatric visits to patients in Special Mental Health Rehabilitation Facilities.

The Recovery and Mental Health Tax Credit is also created under the bill which creates a program to provide tax incentives to qualified employers who employ eligible individuals who are in recovery from a substance use disorder or mental illness.

“The past couple of years have strained our health professions and underscored the incredible need for a strong mental health workforce to meet increased demand.  We want residents of all ages and of all backgrounds to receive the care and help they deserve, and we can only do that if we have enough qualified professionals able to assist. This measure removes bureaucratic hurdles and will help bring trained professionals back to the field right when we need them the most.”  said Rep. Deb Conroy (D-Elmhurst), sponsor of the bill.

Frank Conklin, Illinois Political Columnist for The Chicago Times.  Views and comments expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the official position of The Chicago Times.