Advocates play an important role in contributing to the mental health community. By educating and informing the public, employers and policy makers, a higher value will be placed on recovery and the quality of life that a person with a severe mental illness can achieve.
Every phone call, email, letter or fax can make a difference!
What is a 708 Board?
On March 17, 2020 Elgin Township voters will see a referendum question on their ballot: “Shall Elgin Township establish and maintain community mental health facilities and services including facilities and services for the person with a developmental disability or a substance use disorder and levy therefore an annual tax of not to exceed 0.15%?”
Should the referendum pass, a 708 Board will be established. This will result in a 7-member volunteer board being appointed by the Township Supervisor. The purpose of this Board is to respond to the local mental health, substance use disorder, and developmental disability needs of their constituents. 708 Boards are governed by the Illinois Community Mental Health Act (405 ILCS 20) and are accountable to the citizens of their community.
The Illinois Community Mental Health Act was established following the federal Community Mental Health Act legislation signed on October 31, 1963 by President Kennedy. At that time, the goal was to de-institutionalize mental health and help people thrive in their community. This continues to be the focus under a 708 Board today.
As per the referendum question, a small tax of up to 0.15% of the assessed value of a home (about $80 per year on average) is collected. The 708 Board is then responsible for putting out a request for proposal which will stipulate who is eligible for funding. At a public meeting, the 708 board determines the amount of funding that will be provided to each respondent based on how well it meets the request for proposal’s parameters. After funding is allotted, the 708 Board monitors progress toward the goals.
Some of the services that are funded by 708 Boards include: mental health services in schools, substance use prevention services for young people, in-home mental health support for seniors, mental health services for domestic violence survivors, co-response crisis services in conjunction with law enforcement, in home therapy for youth with Autism and many others. These services allow a community to support people where they live, work, learn, and play. When people in our community are able to function better, we all benefit.
Often times, 708 Boards will also become an avenue to build awareness for mental health, substance use, and developmental disabilities in a community. They are aware of local issues and can identify local solutions often bringing unlikely partners together. One example of such a partnership was between a mobile phone company and the 708 Board. The phone company was able to provide phones to victims of domestic violence who were seeking to leave dangerous situations. These phones had particular restrictions on them that allowed the user to not be tracked which assisted in providing safe passage.
708 Boards or mental health funding through county health departments exist in most areas of Illinois. Northern Kane County is an exception where we have no current 708 Boards. In the recent Kane Health Counts survey conducted by Kane County Health Department and partners, 11.7% of Elgin Township, which would equate to 7,694 people report having poor mental health for 14 or more days in a month. A 708 Board would seek to provide support so that people can feel healthy and supported in their community.