Moments ago, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker delivered his annual budget address, where he outlined his priorities for the upcoming fiscal year. While Gov. Pritzker’s proposal would increase funding for Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants and make other worthy investments, it did not include funding for campus mental health programs through the Mental Health Early Action on Campus (MHEAC) Act — legislation he signed into law just months ago.
Following Gov. Pritzker’s address, Erin Steva, Midwest Regional Director for Young Invincibles, released the following statement:
“With the state facing tough decisions and massive budget shortfalls, Illinois young people are looking to Gov. Pritzker to chart a path toward prosperity by investing in the resources they need to build a stable, financially-secure life. There are certainly worthy investments in the Governor’s proposed budget. We applaud the Governor for proposing increasing MAP grants, expanding apprenticeship opportunities across the state, and restoring a health care navigator program to help Illinoisans enroll in affordable health coverage.
However, it’s clear that any path to economic prosperity requires further investments in the next generation of Illinoisans — particularly Illinois’ most underserved young adults. Though Gov. Pritzker’s address supported expanded mental health services, his budget completely misses the mark in one area that desperately needs reform: campus mental health services.
Just months after signing a bill into law that would expand mental health resources on college campuses across the state, Gov. Pritzker’s budget fails to fund those programs, denying young people the mental health resources they need to stay healthy and succeed inside and outside the classroom. We understand the financial challenges facing the state, but failing to invest in this preventative measure is penny wise, pound foolish. Students with mental illnesses are twice as likely to drop out of college than those without, and we must ensure every student has the support they need to complete their education.
So while we share the Governor’s enthusiasm for the increase in college applications and college affordability, we must also ensure students can complete their education. And that requires an investment in their mental well-being and a commitment to making mental health treatment affordable and accessible for every student.”