The COVID-19 pandemic has only increased the need for mental health services, and St. Charles officials are working to help more people get the treatment they need.
“As you are probably aware, the COVID-19 pandemic has placed an excruciating burden on the mental health community,” Kaylynne Poremba, chair of St. Charles’ 708 Mental Health Board, told alderpersons during the St. Charles City Council’s Government Operations Committee meeting June 20. “In 2020-21, approximately 4,610 residents were served by the agencies that are receiving 708 funding. This is a 44% increase in the number of residents served in 2020. Time and time again, we heard from our agencies. They simply needed more money to expand the number of staff to meet the need in our community.”
As Poremba told alderpersons, opioid use, substance abuse, eating disorders and developmental delays are some of the most pressing issues in the community. The city of St. Charles levies a property tax to support agencies that provide mental health services to residents.
The tax levy was approved by voters in 1986.
The city’s 708 Mental Health Board reviews requests for funding and makes recommendations to distribute funds collected from the tax. This year, 19 agencies applied, including two new agencies – The Joshua Tree and HorsePower Therapeutic Riding.
The City Council’s Government Operations Committee on June 20 recommended giving $612,003 to 19 agencies that provide mental health services. The recommendation will go to the full City Council for review.
Several agencies will receive more than $25,000 in funding. They include the Association for Individual Development, CASA Kane County, St. Charles Police Department, Ecker Center for Mental Health, Lazarus House, Lighthouse Recovery and TriCity Family Services.