During the spring 2018 legislative session, a bipartisan group of 10 legislators sponsored resolution House Resolution 711, which declared that Illinois is suffering from a behavioral healthcare workforce emergency. The resolution declaring a workforce emergency was unanimously adopted by House lawmakers.
During that session, the Illinois General Assembly passed House Bill 5111 (Public Act 100-0767) creating the Illinois Behavioral Health Workforce Act and the Illinois Behavioral Health Education Center Task Force signed into law on August 10, 2018.
In the spring of 2019, the Illinois General Assembly passed Senate Bill 1165 (Public Act 101-0202) amending the legislation to add data collection and a repository of information in support of the Behavioral Health Workforce Act and Behavioral Health Education Task Force. It was signed into law by Governor J.B. Pritzker on August 2, 2019.
Inspired by the Behavioral Health Education Center of Nebraska (BHECN), which was created in 2009 to build a pipeline for behavioral health professionals and to anchor research and education for behavioral health workforce development, the Illinois General Assembly charged the task force with studying:
Throughout 2019, the task force held monthly video conference and teleconference calls to receive input from stakeholders, examine data collected and discuss strategies and recommendations. The task force recommendations were released on December 27, 2019 and included a recommendation for the creation of a Behavioral Health Workforce Center.
In a major effort to expand health equity across Illinois, Governor JB Pritzker signed the Health Care and Human Services Reform Act into law in 2021. The legislation, which represents the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus’ health care pillar, took sweeping action to address health inequities and social determinants of health. The law established new health programs, increased oversight and trainings, builds out Community Health Worker certification, and established the Behavioral Health Workforce Center.