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DuPage County forming new council to improve mental health and substance abuse care efforts

Pioneer Press Newspapers - 11/7/2023

Nov. 7—Dupage County has formed a new DuPage Council on Strengthening the System for Mental Health and Substance Use Care, according to a news release. The council is the transformation of the HOPE Taskforce designed to further integrate countywide efforts to improve mental health and reduce substance use disorders.

"As I envisioned an organization that would help to expand access to quality mental health services in DuPage County, it made sense to also include our efforts to reduce substance use disorder in our community," DuPage County Board Chair Deborah Conroy said in the release. "We know that very often, these two struggles are linked. I believe this Council will provide expertise and desperately needed resources for those seeking behavioral health care, those fighting addiction and their families, who so often feel powerless and don't know where to turn."

The Council is a joint operation of the DuPage County Board and DCHD, the release said. The Council will consist of members specializing in mental health and substance use disorder treatment, recovery, criminal justice, public health, prevention, and education. The Council will include local, and state elected officials as well as community stakeholders and people with lived experience.

According to the release, DuPage County Board Chair Deborah Conroy, and DCHD Executive Director Adam Forker will serve as co-chairs of the Council.

The following individuals shall be serving on the Council:

—State Sen. Karina Villa

—State Rep. Terra Costa Howard

—County Board Member Paula Deacon Garcia

—County Board Member Greg Schwarze

—County Board Member Cindy Cronin Cahill

—County Board Member Sam Tornatore

—DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin

—DuPage County Coroner Dr. Richard Jorgensen

—Judge Paul A. Marchese

—DuPage County Public Defender Jeff York

—Fire Chief Keith Krestan

—Chief of Police Roy Newton

—Dr. Daniel Sullivan

—Felicia Miceli

—Jarret Burton

—Jeff Geiger

—Sheryl Bates

—Cara Siebert

—Jennifer Hess

—Dr. Natasha Dolgin

—Geri Kerger

—Karyn Charvat

The DuPage County Board is supporting the Council with an initial annual investment of $250,000, according to the release. The money will support innovative grassroots projects, encourage transformational changes that improve access to care, and seek to educate communities about behavioral health prevalence, risk factors, and symptoms.

The goal of the Council is to reduce the stigma associated with mental health and substance use disorder and to encourage those impacted to seek treatment, the release said. The Council will support families, caregivers and community members who are also affected.

"The Council will implement strategies to enhance awareness of and access to services for residents impacted by mental health and substance use disorders," Adam Forker, Executive Director, DuPage County Health Department, said in the release.

According to the release, the Council meetings will occur every other month, in person, at the Linda A. Kurzawa Community Center at 115 North County Farm Road, Wheaton.

Interested members of the community are invited to attend the Council meetings, which will be open and announced on the DuPage County Board and DCHD websites.

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(c)2023 Pioneer Press Newspapers (Suburban Chicago, Ill.)

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