SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago) advanced legislation that would improve mental health emergency responses through the Senate Friday.

“When you call an emergency number for a medical issue, you get a medical response, but you aren’t able to get a mental health response when you’re having a mental health emergency,” Peters said. “That must change.”

In July of 2020, the federal government laid the groundworks for 988 to become the new easy-to-remember number to call in the event of a mental health emergency, working similar to 911. House Bill 2784 would require local governments to coordinate 911 and 988 services, with the goal of diverting people with mental or behavioral health needs toward community care and away from incarceration or improper hospitalization.

“Trained mental health professionals should be the ones responding to mental health crises,” Peters said. “The alternative only risks traumatizing people further, and our job is to provide treatment, not trauma.”

The measure passed the Senate with no opposition and will now be sent to the House of Representatives for concurrence with the Senate amendment.

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