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Illinois Courts Response to COVID-19

Mental Health Task Force | State of Illinois Office of the Illinois Courts

Illinois Mental Health Task Force

In 2019, the State Justice Institute (SJI) funded a three-year project called the National Initiative to Improve the Justice System Response to Mental Illness and Co-Occurring Disorders. A National Initiative Advisory Committee was appointed to guide the work. The SJI grant recognized that state court leaders require resources, education and training, data and research, best practices, and other tools to devise solutions to the growing number of ways in which state courts are impacted by cases involving individuals with behavioral disorders. Based on the recognition of the importance and need to improve the state courts response to mental illness, the National Initiative was elevated to a National Judicial Task Force. The Conference of Chief Justices and Conference of State Court Administrators established the National Judicial Task Force to Examine State Courts’ Response to Mental Illness with a charge to “assist state courts in their efforts to more effectively respond to the needs of court-involved individuals with serious mental illness.” Led by four chief justices and four state court administrators, joined by 40 additional judges and court and behavioral health experts, and funded by SJI, the Task Force will spend the next year developing tools, resources, best practices and policy recommendations for the state courts.

In October of 2019, the Conference of Chief Justices and the Conference of State Court Administrators hosted a Midwest Regional Summit in Deadwood, South Dakota. The respective Midwest Chief Justices and State Court Administrators appointed multi-disciplinary teams to attend the Midwest Summit, which combined educational sessions with opportunities for state teams to identify opportunities for improvement and to develop priorities. Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Anne M. Burke and Illinois State Court Administrator Marcia Meis assembled and led an Illinois delegation at the Midwest Regional Summit.

Upon returning to Illinois, the Illinois team began work by inviting an interdisciplinary, multi-branch group of leaders to form the Illinois Mental Health Task Force (Task Force). Through SJI funding, the Illinois Supreme Court added a national partner, the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) to provide technical assistance. The Task Force goals are to:

1. Build a community-by-community approach, supported by statewide leadership from all three branches of government;

2. Conduct a statewide mapping or needs assessment to identify what is working and what gaps exist;

3. Assist in creating a vision for Illinois' mental health continuum of care;

4. Develop and implement a statewide strategic plan; and

5. Ensure accountability through transparency and accessible reports on Task Force activities.


Events & Announcements

Title Date & Time Event Overview
Webinar 1: Mental Health 101 – Overview of Mental Health Issues in the Modern World

Access Code: 4670871#
May 4, 2022
All conferences begin at 1:00 PM ET; you may join the conference 10 minutes prior.
SAMHSA and HUD will kick off their celebration of National Mental Health Awareness Month with an introduction and general overview of mental health issues post COVID-19. This first webinar of a 4-part series will feature speakers from SAMHSA and HUD, as well as HUD mental health practitioners.
Webinar 2: 988 is Not a Joke – National Suicide Prevention Hotline Launch

Access Code: 8477433#
May 11, 2022
All conferences begin at 1:00 PM ET; you may join the conference 10 minutes prior.
SAMHSA and HUD will introduce SAMHSA’s new Suicide Prevention Hotline (988). The webinar will also address suicide prevention for youth and the BIPOC community, in addition to touching on substance use.
Judges and Psychiatrists Leadership Initiative Annual Leadership Summit May 17, 2022, 8:00 pm – 9:30 pm, EST We will be celebrating judicial and psychiatric leadership to improve outcomes for people with behavioral health needs. This will include presenting our Judge Stephen S. Goss Leadership award to a judge and a psychiatrist. The evening will also include a robust discussion about the National Task Force that has been working to address judicial education related to mental health.
Webinar 3: Get Help – Reducing Stigma Associated with Mental Health

Access Code: 5955873#
May 18, 2022
All conferences begin at 1:00 PM ET; you may join the conference 10 minutes prior.
SAMHSA and HUD will focus on reducing stigma associated with mental health, to encourage those with potential mental health issues to seek professional help. This webinar will also concentrate on the BIPOC community, addressing stigma specific to these populations.
Webinar 4: Now What? – Mental Health Issues in Post-COVID America

Access Code: 6268721#
May 25, 2022
All conferences begin at 1:00 PM ET; you may join the conference 10 minutes prior.
SAMHSA and HUD will examine how to address mental health issues in post-COVID America. Besides the physical toll the pandemic took on Americans, it has also greatly affected our nation’s mental health. This webinar will discuss how to handle and move past multiple co-occurring pandemics, using a mental health focus on substance use disorder, housing, work, education, and transportation among other relevant topics.
Criminal Justice and Equity: Bridging the Gaps January 2022 – May 2022 The Kennedy-Satcher Center for Mental Health Equity (KSCMHE), in partnership with the Wellpath Cares Foundation, will host a series of virtual roundtables to address the landscape of inequities that affect justice-involved individuals.

Press Releases


Regional Councils & Mapping Workshops

To lead the Illinois change initiative, the Task Force chose to develop five judicially led, multidisciplinary Regional Councils to conduct mapping workshops within each Illinois Department of Human Services state hospital catchment area.

Region 1
Circuit Court of Cook County

Region 2
Twelfth, Fifteenth, Sixteenth, Seventeenth, Eighteenth, Nineteenth, Twenty-First, Twenty-Second, and Twenty-Third Judicial Circuits

Regions 3 & 4
Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, Thirteenth, and Fourteenth Judicial Circuits

Region 5
First, Second, Third, and Twentieth Judicial Circuits


Regional Councils will include representation from multiple court and community stakeholders including but not limited to court personnel, community behavioral health providers, state government department officials, university officials, law enforcement agencies, persons with lived experience, and other interested participants.

These Councils will be supported by the AOIC Statewide Behavioral Health Administrator and will use the National GAINS Center Sequential Intercept Model to facilitate cross-system communication and collaboration to identify resources and data sources, improve early identification and diversion of people with mental health and co-occurring disorders coming into contact with the courts, increase effective service linkage, and lessen the likelihood of persons recycling through the criminal justice system. Ultimately, the workshop results will inform a statewide vision of what a behavioral health continuum of care with multiple diversion pathways should look like in Illinois while identifying:

  • Service delivery processes that support recovery
  • Opportunities to divert individuals from the criminal justice system to the treatment and service system
  • Best practices, promising initiatives, and potential pilot programs to address needs
  • Gaps in service, local resources, and barriers to service delivery
  • Supporting data sources


 Regional Council Workshops

Region 1 Council

Region 1 Council and Resource Mapping Workshops
January – May 2022
12:15 pm - 1:30 pm

Region 2 Council

Region 2 Council and Resource Mapping Workshops
Second Tuesday of the Month
January – May 2022 
12:15 pm – 1:30 pm

Join Zoom Meeting

  • April 12, 2022
  • May 10, 2022

Region 3 Council

Region 3 Council and Resource Mapping Workshops
Third Wednesday of the Month
January – May 2022
12:15 pm – 1:30 pm

Join Zoom Meeting

  • April 20, 2022
  • May 25 at 12:15 PM

Region 4 Council

Region 4 Council and Resource Mapping Workshops
Second Wednesday of the Month
January – May 2022
12:15 pm – 1:30 pm

Join Zoom Meeting

  • April 13, 2022
  • May 11, 2022

Region 5 Council

Region 5 Council and Resource Mapping Workshops
Third Thursday of the Month
January – May 2022
12:15 pm – 1:30 pm

Join Zoom Meeting

  • April 21, 2022
  • May 19, 2022