Illinois governor plan targets kids’ mental health crisis

Category: Health


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. in the works / ɪn ðə wɜrks / (idiom) – in the process of being planned, prepared, developed, or completed

    My favorite singer has a world tour in the works.

  2. serpentine / ˈsɜr pənˌtin / (adj.) – complicated and difficult to understand

    The huge company has a serpentine job application process.

  3. disparate / ˈdɪs pər ɪt / (adj.) – not similar in every way

    Our group couldn’t come up with a plan because we all had disparate ideas.

  4. unravel / ʌnˈræv əl / (v.) – to understand or cause a difficult or complicated thing to be understood

    The scientists unraveled the history of the skeleton they found.

  5. at (someone’s) wit’s end / ət wɪts ɛnd / (idiom) – very worried, confused, or annoyed about not knowing what to do

    We were at our wit’s end trying to solve an issue in our project.


Read the text below.

A mental health crisis among children in Illinois will be fought by streamlining and easing access to necessary treatment and coordination between six separate state agencies, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced.

In the works for nearly a year, the study examined the capacity and condition of Illinois’ response to behavioral health in young people. It sketches avenues to help families first to understand mental illness, then makes it easier for them to get required care without navigating what Pritzker called the “serpentine” paths of disparate state agencies.

“Government doesn’t work very well between silos of one department and another,” Pritzker said at a school in the Chicago suburb of Maywood. “People feel like they have territory that they need to protect. And the fact is that our territory is all of the children of the state of Illinois.”

The mental health of children nationwide rapidly unraveled during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2021 found 44% of American children had depressive episodes lasting at least two weeks, according to the report.

Lawmakers and advocates were impressed by the number of agencies working together.

“You think of a parent who’s in crisis at their wit’s end … having to call each and every one of these agencies and trying to keep track of it,” said Senate Public Health Committee Chairperson Karina Villa, a West Chicago Democrat. “All they want is to get their baby the help that they need. Now we have a blueprint as to how they’re going to be able to do that.”

“What families (should) experience is a simplified, centralized, clear way to get access to services to understand what their children are struggling with and to identify the things that might help address those challenges,” said Dana Weiner, one of the authors of the report.

The ranking Republican on the Senate Behavioral and Mental Health Committee, Terri Bryant of Murphysboro, said she’s pleased a plan is underway, adding her main focus will be ensuring sufficient treatment space, particularly in southern Illinois where she lives.

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2021 found 44% of American children had depressive episodes. Why do you think this is the case (ex. they had to stay at home because of the lockdown)? Discuss.
  • Aside from streamlining and easing access to necessary treatment, what else should be done to help families (ex. spread information about mental health)? Why? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • Gov. Pritzker described the current process for getting required care for mental illness as “serpentine.” In your country, what government agency would you describe as having “serpentine” processes? Why? Discuss.
  • What do you think should be done to address serpentine processes? Discuss.