HomeNews & EventsPublicationsMind Matters - Fall 2022IPS Hosts First Legislative Roundtable

IPS Hosts First Legislative Roundtable

Electronic Fall 2022  |  Issue 52

IPS Hosts First Legislative Roundtable
By: Jasleen Singh, MD

On July 14th, IPS was proud to host its first Legislative Roundtable, moderated by IPS President Dr. Abdi Tinwalla, and featured three key panelists – Representative La Shawn Ford, Senator Adrianne Johnson, and Representative Lindsey LaPointe. The three panelists took turns answering several key questions that had been submitted prior to the event and concluded with participation in an interactive Q&A with the audience. They addressed critical issues such as the main concerns pertaining to mental health for constituents in their district, barriers to mental health in Illinois, how to improve access to services, social determinants of health/mental health, and how people at the “ground level” can advocate and access funds to further mental health policy.
Several themes were evident from the panelists’ responses. They all noted the effect of trauma on their constituents - whether impacted by gun violence, poverty, climate change, public safety issues, economic development, substance use, or variable access to mental health services. Furthermore, the effect of isolation, as exacerbated by the pandemic and accompanied by loss and grief, was also discussed.
The panelists remarked on additional obstacles that impact access to mental health, including lack of health care literacy, insufficient number of outreach workers, need for increased diversity within the profession, and awareness of available mental health resources – with the overall message that education and outreach are critical to addressing such barriers. Yet, the significant potential for growth and change was also addressed.
Improving awareness of the new national 9-8-8 crisis number as well as the 2-1-1 resource line were identified as simple but impactful steps towards improving access to mental health care. It was additionally noted that primary physicians are often first line for many people and thus it is critical that they continue to have more discussions about mental health with their patients.
While steps towards destigmatizing behavioral health were acknowledged, further progress needs to be made for access, equity, and cultural sensitivity. Furthermore, when it comes to accessing funds to help enact such change, it was noted that it is critical for people to reach out to their legislators and have ongoing conversations with them.
As an “expert” in the field, cultivating such relationships is essential. It was encouraged that people should be proactive in reaching out to legislators, provide feedback on how implementation of policies is going, and also share ideas for legislation. Becoming a trusted source of information and making the interaction more personal can be powerful. It was highlighted that this should be a two-way interaction, where individuals know their elected officials at various levels of government and have an idea of their role, but also that elected officials should also know their constituents. This is essential as legislators may even be able to appropriate funding for projects, but they have to know about them to do so.

Overall, the event was a success, filled with learning and active discussion amongst attendees and panelists.
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