Mental health advocates, elected leaders show support for 708 Boards at June 29 Rally for Mental Health
The Rally for Mental Health on June 29 at Busse Woods brought together a large gathering of almost 100 attendees including mental health advocates and elected officials in support of the creation of 708 Community Mental Health Boards in Schaumburg and Wheeling townships. This event was organized by the Schaumburg 708 Mental Health Board Coalition, the Mental Health Board for Wheeling Township, and Reclaim NW Suburbs.
Elected officials in attendance included Cook County Commissioner Kevin Morrison, 15th District, who was the emcee for the event; state Rep. Mark Walker, 53rd District; state Rep. Michelle Mussman, 56th District; as well as many village and school board members from both townships.
Speakers representing local mental health agencies talked about the need for increased funding in our communities and how the pandemic greatly exacerbated the need.
Speakers included Mari Brzostowski, MS, LCPC, executive director at Ascension Illinois Alexian Brothers Center for Mental Health in Arlington Heights; Laura Fry, executive director of Live4Lali; and Michael Murray, who led the efforts for the creation of a 708 Board in Bloomingdale Township and who has inspired and coached many counties and townships throughout the state on the process.
Rep. Mussman shared her thoughts on the importance of 708 boards in our communities: "This is such an important need in our community. We are good at keeping our concerns hidden from our neighbors but it is not healthy for us, or them, and we need to admit that we will all be better and have a higher quality of life for ourselves and our loved ones if services are more available right here in our community."
Arlington Heights Trustee Nicolle Grasse added her thoughts on the importance of 708 Boards: "I come from the belief that what affects one of us affects all of us. Taking care of mental health makes us a better community. As a hospice chaplain for 30 years, I have seen the lack of support especially during times of COVID."
The notary on-hand was busy signing petitions throughout the event, yet both Schaumburg and Wheeling townships have met their goals for petition signatures to get the mental health referendum on the November ballot.
Now it is time to inform and encourage residents to vote YES on the referendum. The referendum will ask residents in these townships to allow up to a small percent increase in property taxes dictated by Illinois law to not go beyond 0.15% of a property's current assessed value for the residents in these townships.
A goal to raise $1.5 million yearly would be reached by a small increase of $25 a year for the average homeowner in Schaumburg and Wheeling townships.
708 Boards, which exist in many counties and townships throughout Illinois, provide important connections between townships and their communities in providing targeted and comprehensive care to help those affected by mental illness, addiction, or developmental disabilities. These are appointed volunteer boards that are directly funded to provide grants for mental health services. They help fill the gap or eliminate gaps in service such as long waiting lists or arbitrary cut-off limits. They can act quickly to help families in crisis situations.
Reclaim NW Suburbs conducts educational events and actions to promote racial, social, economic, and environmental equity in the northwest suburbs. For more information on Reclaim NW Suburbs, visit www.facebook.com/Reclaimchicagonwsuburbs.