McHenry County mental health groups seek more funding, say current level ‘insufficient’ to meet need

Local social service agencies have seen uptick in mental health concerns

Jaret Ross, a social worker with Family Health Partnership Clinic, talks with nurse Nancy Estrada on Thursday afternoon, Sept. 28, 2023, at the Crystal Lake clinic.  Social services agencies like the Family Health Partnership Clinic asking the county for more money for mental health treatment as part of the county's 2024 budget.

One in five American adults struggle with their mental health, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In McHenry County, social service organizations have continued to see increased demand for mental health services, with many seeking more financial assistance from the County Board.

To that end, the McHenry County Mental Health Board is asking for an additional $2.5 million in next year’s county budget. The mental health board received about $10.5 million in tax revenue during the current fiscal year.

At Thursday’s special county board meeting – where county staff presented different budget scenarios for next year’s spending – a lesser increase of $525,000 was recommended for the mental health board.

“Our current levy and budget is at $10.45M and it is insufficient to meet the needs of our community,” Mental Health Board Executive Director Leonetta Rizzi wrote in an email Thursday.

Some community members and employees of social services have spoken at recent public meetings about the need for mental health funding.

Public comment at last week’s McHenry County Board meeting and Thursday’s County Board budget meeting focused extensively on mental health, with many of the speakers coming from mental health organizations.

Suzanne Hoban, executive director of Crystal Lake-based Family Health Partnership Clinic, told county board members at Thursday’s budget meeting that her organization had to go back to the mental health board for more funding for therapy services in March.

“You need to fund mental health services at its fullest capacity,” Hoban said.

The Mental Health Board’s County Board liaison, Carolyn Schofield, a former County Board member, also spoke about the need to fund mental health initiatives, but not at the expense of other county services.

“I am not going to ask for a cut to any of the other critical services that McHenry County provides,” Schofield said. “Please consider the impact of investing in mental health.”

Some county board members, however, have suggested they’re reluctant to increase the burden on taxpayers, making it unclear whether any increase in mental health funding will be approved in the final budget for 2024.

Hoban later told the Northwest Herald her clinic, which focuses on serving adult patients, has seen more demand for therapy services.

Hoban said that demand for therapy is not unique to McHenry County, however, but also is increasing across the nation.

A variety of factors are contributing to that increased demand but also stressed the importance of taking care of the community’s mental health needs.

“If you don’t address mental health issues, you will definitely see downstream ramifications,” Hoban said.

Rosecrance, which provides mental healthcare and help for substance abuse, served more than 50,000 people in fiscal 2022 and 54,000 people in fiscal 2023, Rosecrance communications specialist Lindsey Salvatelli said in an email.

“In our clinics, we continue to see teens and adults who struggle with their mental health, substance use, or sometimes both,” Rosecrance Regional President Carlene Cardosi said in a statement.

Guadalupe Ortiz, executive director of McHenry-based Youth and Family Center of McHenry County, said Mental Health Board funding helps to pay for the organization’s after-school youth care and bicultural service navigation programs.

“They have been one of our long-term funders,” Ortiz said of the mental health board.

She said her organization has seen an uptick in mental health cases.

Among the stressors Ortiz sees are food insecurity and a lack of affordable housing in the area.

“There’s very limited options for renters,” Ortiz said, adding that her organization works closely with other groups in the area. “There is so much collaboration. We’re all working together.”

Have a Question about this article?