Skip to Main Content

Illinois Mental Health Task Force History | 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.


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


From January through May of 2022, the Illinois Supreme Court Mental Health Task Force (Task Force) hosted a series five judicially led, multidisciplinary Regional Councils and Resource Mapping Workshops within each of the five statewide regions. The Regional Councils and Resource Mapping Workshops used the National GAINS Center Sequential Intercept Model framework to facilitate the process.

Overall, the Illinois Task Force efforts engaged hundreds of justice partners and resulted in the following:

  • Identified and shared information, resources, and gaps across the SIM
  • Identified local and statewide behavioral health services to support diversion from the justice system
  • Introduced community system leaders and staff to evidence-based practices and emerging best practices related to each intercept
  • Enhanced relationships across systems and agencies, and
  • Informed a developing Action Plan and Vision for a court-informed continuum of behavioral health care in Illinois.

The Illinois Mental Health Task Force would like to thank all who participated and looks forward to finalizing, sharing, and effectuating the Task Force Action Plan in the fall of 2022, at which time the Regional Councils will reconvene.