Governor Pritzker Launches Overdose Action Plan, Names Chief Behavioral Health Officer

CHICAGO - Building on the administration's historic funding increases for mental and behavioral health, today Governor Pritzker announced the 2022 State of Illinois Overdose Action Plan, a comprehensive, equity-centric outline for combatting the opioid epidemic. Additionally, the Governor named David T. Jones, as the state's Associate Secretary for Behavioral Health at the Illinois Department of Human Services, to be known as the Chief Behavioral Health Officer.

"Everybody knows somebody who is struggling, and our support systems ought to reflect the universal importance of mental health," said Governor JB Pritzker. "Our equity-driven State of Illinois Overdose Action Plan is just one way we're overhauling the state's behavioral health support systems - and with Chief Behavioral Health Officer David T. Jones at the helm, I look forward to the progress we'll continue to make in supporting Illinoisans' access to help."

"As the Chief Behavioral Health Officer, I will work with people with lived expertise, Behavioral Health Providers, elected officials, people who use drugs and other stakeholders to transform how Illinois supports mental, emotional and overall behavioral health wellness for everyone," said Chief Behavioral Health Officer David T. Jones.

On Friday, Governor Pritzker announced the Children's Behavioral Health Transformation Initiative and named Chapin Hall child welfare expert Dana Weiner, PhD, as Director. Dr. Weiner will work in coordination with Jones. While Jones's focus will be the entire behavioral health system, the Children's Behavior Health Transformation Initiative will be a focused effort to improve services for children with significant behavioral health needs. Dr. Weiner will deliver a set of recommendations by the end of 2022.

"I'm looking forward to working together with David to ensure that the behavioral health needs of all Illinois residents can be met efficiently and effectively," said Children's Behavioral Health Transformation Director Dana Weiner. "Our collaborations will ensure that all Illinois residents have access to timely, consistent, and high-quality behavioral health services."

"Through critical interagency collaboration and ensuring the voices of individuals with lived experiences are at the forefront of our efforts, the State Overdose Action Plan outlines a comprehensive harm reduction strategy with equity at the center," said Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton. "We recognize that the most effective way to address the opioid crisis is by joining forces and working with the communities impacted to make needed change."

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