About Us


Since 1909, Mental Health America of Illinois (MHAI) has worked to promote mental health, prevent mental illnesses and improve the care and treatment of persons suffering from mental and emotional disorders. Our three main focus areas are to educate, to advocate and to inform.

As supporters, we know that mental health is vital to overall well-being and that countless people remain silent sufferers to diseases that cannot be seen. This is a battle that we must face as a united front, which is why advocates like YOU are critically important to help make change!

We are focused on promoting publicly-funded mental health services in Illinois for adults and children – to be both affordable and accessible. MHAI advocates for related legislation to eliminate medication Step Therapy and support Insurance Parity, as well as policies and practices that support adequate mental health services.

Our 2016 Highlights

  • MHAI instituted a quarterly Luncheon and Speaker Series. Our first speaker on May 18, 2016 was the recently appointed CEO of Cook County Department of Corrections, Nneka Jones Tapia, Psy.D, the first mental health professional to serve as a director of the Cook County Jail. Our second speaker on September 21, 2016 was Ric Estrada, president and CEO of Metropolitan Family Services. 
  • MHAI was instrumental in passing the Public Act 99-0761, which requires private health insurance providers to take clinical issues into consideration before they impose “step-therapy” (fail first) requirements on policy holders. 
  • MHAI successfully convinced the state to transfer a major children’s mental health program from a failing state agency to another in need to increase the availability of services. 
  • MHAI’s Public Policy program celebrated its authoring and support of five bills to improve access to mental health services. 
  • MHAI continues to chair the Mental Health Summit, and our advocacy on children’s mental health has resulted in changes designed to make it easier for children to receive services. 
  • MHAI will be transferring its microsite, “It Only Takes One,” to Hope For The Day, a suicide prevention organization in Chicago.

As part of our mission, the work your donations enable us to pursue is driven by the need to ensure provisions for mental health services. We want to prevent those living with a mental illness from being mistakenly placed in a system where they continue to experience issues with improper diagnosis and care. We take the lead on these issues through our stewardship of the Mental Health Summit – petitioning state government on policies, drafting legislation, and participating in coalitions to address these issues.

In the wise words our founder, Jane Addams: 

“Nothing could be worse than the fear that one had given up too soon, and left one unexpended effort that might have saved the world.”