05302018CM1374 rCHICAGO – Underserved communities across the state may soon see more mental health professionals thanks to a new law sponsored by State Senator Heather Steans.

“Both rural and urban areas across the state are not adequately staffed with mental health professionals. This law will incentivize mental health professionals to work in those shortage areas,” Steans (D-Chicago) said.  

The law creates a loan repayment assistance program for mental health professionals practicing in underserved or designated mental health professional shortage areas. To be eligible for the program, an applicant must work at least 12 consecutive months in the designated area and have an outstanding educational loan balance. The amount of the grant would vary based on the applicant’s degree.

“I hope this legislation will encourage more mental health professionals to work in understaffed areas across the state,” Steans said. “Many communities are struggling with the opioid crisis and addiction issues and need additional support.”

Under this program grants would not exceed the following amounts:

•    up to $35,000 per year for a psychiatrist;
•    up to $15,000 per year for an advanced practice registered nurse or physician’s assistant;
•    up to $12,000 per year for a psychologist who holds a doctoral degree;
•    up to $6,500 per year for a licensed clinical social worker or a licensed clinical professional counselor; and
•    up to $2,500 per year for a substance-use professional.

House Bill 5109 takes effect July 1, 2019.

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