SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Laura Fine (D-Glenview) is leading a measure aimed at growing the mental health professional workforce in Illinois, as the current workforce is struggling to keep up with increasing demand.

“The shortage of behavioral health care professionals is a huge roadblock for people seeking quality mental health care,” said Sen. Fine. “I am committed to addressing this pressing issue to ensure people have access to the best mental health care possible, and that providers are supported during these unprecedented times.”

In Illinois, there are only 14 behavioral health care professionals for every 10,000 Illinois residents. Many people are forced to wait longer for essential treatment or forego health care entirely because of this gap. This can be detrimental to their mental and physical well-being.

To address these issues, SB 3617 focuses on expanding the current workforce. It will accelerate the process for out of state clinicians applying for licensure in Illinois, as well as suspending requirements for social workers, professional counselors, and clinical psychologists with licenses that have been inactive for five years. Additionally, it includes initiatives to support diversity in the mental health field, establishing tax credits, and many more provisions, all of which will encourage more quality, accessible care to those seeking assistance.

“It takes bravery to reach out to get treatment for a mental or behavioral health condition,” Fine said. “I hope that this measure will not only reduce the gap between available providers and patients, but also encourage people to find the provider that is the best fit for their mental health needs.”

Senate Bill 3617 passed the Behavioral and Mental Health committee Tuesday. It now goes to the Senate floor for debate.