By: Hope Salman

The Behavior Health Leadership Team of Rockford ask board members to put a referendum question on the March 2020 ballot. It would ask for a half cent sales tax increase to go toward mental health initiatives.

Winnebago County Board Chairperson, Frank Haney says mental health is already underfunded at the state and local levels. Many local counselors agree.

“There is more and more research coming out regarding the element of how to incorporate a healthy lifestyle, along with counseling, therapy, and if medication is needed,” said Licensed Clinical Worker, Kevin Polky. It’s great to be able to assist and develop programs for young people and adults.”

Dr. Sondra Martell, from The Health Department couldn’t speak to us before the meeting, but sent a statement:
“In Winnebago County, mental health is a community health priority. Mental health impacts the health, quality of life, and welfare of all Winnebago County residents. The Winnebago County Health Department continues to work with our partner agencies to establish community resources that can address the need for crisis stabilization, early identification and outreach, and ongoing care in the community for both adult and children. WCHD supports efforts to fund mental health services in Winnebago County.”

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) —– With hundreds of new laws going into effect at the start of the new year, mental health jumps to the forefront, with close to a dozen new pieces of legislation hitting the books.


From requiring mental health and illness instruction in school health classes to providing mental health exams for students that make school threats before placing them in the juvenile court system, mental health service professionals say the new wave of laws directly impact thousands of people across the Stateline, providing necessary resources to communities that need it most.

“We look at cancer different today than we did 30 years ago. We look at HIV/AIDS differently than we did 30-40 years ago, and it all started in the same type of way. How do we start, not only setting up legislation, so that it requires us to do this, but it also, as we then implement that legislation, implement that sanctions, how do we make that an everyday part of our language,” said Kevin Polky, KP Counseling.

Other laws going into effect this week include the Illinois Mental Health First Aid Training Program, which gives teacher mental health instruction to better help their students, as well as federal funding for maternal mental health.