Letter: With growing mental health crisis in McHenry County, vote yes on referendum

Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

The mental health crisis in McHenry County communities continues to increase. Before my recent retirement, I saw this first-hand among my students at McHenry County College. I saw anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts – I saw them over and over again! I serve on the board of Association for Individual Development, a McHenry County mental health agency, where I continue to hear from staff about the growing need for services.

Last year the McHenry County Mental Health Board funded 40 agencies who served 47,000 people with mental health difficulties, substance use challenges and developmental disabilities. Yet funding has not kept up with the needs. Those left behind are people we know – friends, neighbors and family members.

In seeking a solution, the County Board voted (in a near-unanimous, bipartisan way) to put a referendum on the March 19 primary ballot. It will shift Mental Health Board funding from the current property tax to a retail sales tax of 25 cents on a $100 purchase (food, medicine and medical supplies are exempt). This change in how mental health services are funded is supported by the agencies providing care.

Please vote “Yes” on the March 19 ballot. This change will allow funding to grow as the economic base of the county grows. It will help bridge the gap between the increased need and available funding. Most important, it will enable individuals and families in the county to access desperately needed services.

You can find additional at mchenrycountyil.gov/county-government/mental-health-board-sales-tax-faq.

James B. Gould