ROCKFORD (WREX) — Voters gave the green light in March for a tax that would go toward mental health services in Winnebago County. That half cent sales tax is expected to generate $13 million and the Winnebago County Mental Health Board hopes to spend that money wisely.
The current state of the world is taking a toll on people in Winnebago County.
"Depression, anxiety, people are responding negatively and then behavior health conditions are on the rise," said Rosecrance Health Network President David Gomel.
Rosecrance says local services aren't just critical but life saving.
"Well Winnebago and Boone, we are one of the only counties in the state of Illinois that doesn't have local funding for behavior health conditions. This 708 board was imperative for our community so we can take care of our community," said Gomel.
The Winnebago County Mental Health Board was created just less than a year ago and it's projected to receive $13 million in taxpayer money for October of 2020 - September of 2021. President of the board, Mary Ann Abate, says deciding on how to spent the money was easy.
"With the help of all of our stakeholders, we are looking to see where there are barriers and where there are gaps and we want to be able to prioritize our dollars in those areas," said Abate.
Just under two percent of the $13 million will go towards operational costs while 98 percent will go straight towards requests for proposals (RFP). That's something Rosecrance hopes will give those in our area a better chance at seeking help earlier.
"There are times when there are people that have limited means, and they need psychiatric residential or inpatient services, and we have to find a place that's outside of our community and that's a tragedy," said Gomel.
"Provide services that hopefully can intervene before a person ends up in a hospital, or an emergency room, or being arrested because many people with mental illness commit nuisance crimes," said Abate.
Filling in the holes so those suffering from mental health issues or substance abuse can get back on track.
The Winnebago County Mental Health Board's budget isn't finalized yet. It has to be approved by the county board.
Rosecrance also says if you or someone you know is struggling with their behavior health the best thing you can do is reach out for help. Call 815-720-4960 or visit here for more information.