Testimonials from the Mental Health Symposium  2.26.15:  

 We believe that stigma is the greatest barrier to  individuals accessing mental health services.  Katie

 Continue to talk about mental health everywhere  we can to take away the stigma.  Kim

 Lack of financial resources for both individuals  and agencies are barriers to mental health access.  Katie

 ...we need to become very active in telling our  state senators and representatives that we need  funding to remain the same and that we want  more resources for this population.  Mary


 Of the nation’s students identified as having emotional  disabilities, over 50% exit the school system without a high  school diploma
 Nearly 75% do not continue their education after high school
 And of those who continue their educations beyond high  school, over 70% have experienced mental health crises while  on campus, which often results in the lack of degree  completion.

 In the workforce, 60 – 80% of individuals who live with mental  illness are unemployed, with number estimated to be as high  as 90% for individuals living with severe mental illness
 Of those who are employed, many experience elevated rates  of underemployment, such as being passed over for  promotions or employment instability, as they experience      increased rates of being fired from a job.

 With an education that may not even equate to a high school  diploma and high rates of unemployment, under employment  and employment instability, independent and stable living  situations are difficult to achieve.
 In 2010, it was estimated that over 14,000 Illinoisans  experienced homelessness each night
 Comparably, on a national level, over 30% of adult      homelessness is associated with severe mental illness.

 Involvement in the criminal justice system is a frequent  reality for those who experience mental illness.
 In Illinois, over 60% of local jail inmates, over 55% of state  prisoners and approximately 45% of federal prisoners  experience a form of mental illness 
 Of those 14,000, nearly 32% suffered from severe mental i  illness.  Nationally, over 70% of youth in the juvenile justice  system experience at least one mental health condition 
 It is estimated that individuals who suffer from mental illness  are 3 times more likely to be in the criminal justice system         than receiving treatment in an inpatient facility.




  • With abysmal outcome statistics staring us in the face, let’s not forget who is at the heart of this critical conversation. 
  • 75% of individuals suffering from mental illness believe that people do not care about or have sympathy for those suffering from mental illness;
  • Many suffering from mental illness feel guilt, hopelessness and worthlessness
  • For the young and old alike, mental illness is the attributing cause of 90% of suicides in America
  • Baring in mind that 1 in 4 individuals nationally and 1 in 5 in individuals in Illinois suffer from mental illness 


  • The impact on the families of those suffering from mental illness is “unimaginable,  unless you’ve lived it.” 
  • It is reported that over 60% of parents caring for a child who suffers from mental illness  feel that they are unable to adequately care for their other children;
  • 50% report having to change jobs, in order to care for their child;
  • 70% report significant strain on their marriages, often resulting in divorce or separation;
  • Over 50% report stigma and prejudice related to mental illness had been experienced by  members of their families
  • And more than 20% report having made the unimaginable decision of relinquishing  custody of their child with mental illness, to give them a fighting chance at receiving  the care and treatment they need


  •  It is estimated that for every $1 spent on mental health services, there is $5 in overall  healthcare savings.  Mental illness accounts for approximately 15% of the economic  burden of all illnesses in the United States.  However, as funding decreases, the burden  will only stand to increase.
  • Conservatively, it is estimated that mental illness costs Americans $193.2 billion dollars  per year in lost earnings
  • And between lost wages, healthcare costs and disability benefits, mental illness costs  Americans $317 billion dollars per year


  • Over the last 20 years, psychiatric beds available to individuals with severe mental illness have decreased by nearly 33%, while the number of Americans suffering from severe mental illness has increased by over 8%
  • Since 2009, States have collectively cut over $5 billion in mental health service funding, with Illinois ranking 3rd in the highest amount of funding reductions
  • Between 2009 and 2012, funding in Illinois decreased by 18%
  • With more people in need and fewer services available, access to mental health care is of critical concern.
  • Of the millions of Americans who experience mental illness annually, less than 40% will receive mental health services this year.
  • Only 50% youth ages 8 to 15 experiencing mental illness will receive mental health services
  • And in Illinois, only 20% of students with emotional disabilities will receive mental health services

 On February 26, 2015, an inaugural mental health symposium took place.  This  symposium was the brain child of a group of high school district special education  directors and staff who were concerned with the minimal resources available to our  young adults with mental health needs exiting the school system.  

 Out of this concern grew an idea for a symposium bringing together experts in the  field of education and mental health to share resources and have conversations to  drive future directions to support students with emotional disabilities transitioning  into adulthood.  Representatives from Legal, Legislative, Mental Health Agencies,  Schools, Medical and Behavioral Health Facilities, Vocational Entities, University  Researchers, and Families explored the issue and identified potential actions for  transforming the future for young adults with mental health needs.  

 Below are links to information regarding the day, presenters, and ideas generated  during the symposium.  Forthcoming will be a consolidated action plan from the list  of ideas synthesized based on attendees' feedback.  

  • In Illinois alone, there are approximately 175,000 school aged children and adolescents who receive special education services as  students with emotional disabilities.
  • Of these students, over 4,000 of have needs that exceed the resources of
    their local school district,  and they require 
    ​educational  placement in the therapeutic day school setting.
  • In 2014 school year, 275 of these students’ needs were so  ​significant, they required residential  placement through the school  system to meet their needs.
  • The number of school aged children in need of residential placement through the school system has  increased by 18% over the  last 5 years.
  • Many of these students in Illinois are also represented in the 20% Illinoisans who experience mental  illness and the 25% who  experience mental illness, nationally.  


Mental Health Symposium

Our Goal:  A Call to Action to Transform the Future for Young Adults with Mental Health Needs.