Will County's Dr. Kathleen Burke was named to the nationwide Commission on Mental Health and Wellbeing. –Photo submitted.
Health Department’s Dr. Burke Named to Nationwide Mental Health/Wellbeing Commission
The National Association of Counties (NACo) announced 14 county leaders have been appointed to the new commission on Mental Health and Wellbeing, including Will County Health Department’s Dr. Kathleen Burke. The group, unveiled at NACo’s Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C., is tasked with leading the development of policy and programmatic recommendations at the federal, state, and local levels to address systemic issues contributing to the ever-growing mental health crisis.
“In 2021, nearly one-in-four U.S. adults and one-in-five adolescents experienced a mental illness,” said NACo President Denise Winfrey. “This commission understands the urgency of the moment. It’s made up of people who, in their own communities, are seeing the effects of the mental health crisis and have an idea of where we need to start in order to address it.”
Dr. Burke serves as the Coordinator of Substance Use Initiatives in the Behavioral Health Division of the Will County Health Department. In this role, she manages the Illinois Drug Overdose Prevention Project in Will County and is a member of the Illinois Opioid Crisis Response Advisory Council. Dr. Burke offers Naloxone training throughout Will County to prevent over-dose deaths. She also leads the Recovery Coach/Peer Support Specialist Workforce Development Project and the Naloxone Rapid Response Program. She is a member of Governors State University (GSU) faculty and serves on GSU’s Addictions Studies and Behavioral Health Advisory Committee. Additionally, Dr. Burke serves on Will County Mobilizing for Action through the Planning and Partnerships (MAPP) Collaborative Executive Committee and is Behavioral Health Action Team Chair, on the Stepping Stones Treatment Center Board of Directors, and is a member of the Will Grundy HLM Recovery Oriented System of Care Council.
“I am passionate about creating access to behavioral health services for the community, both mental health and substance use, in the same manner in which we have access to health care,” said Burke. “Stigma has been allowed to influence the systems of care within communities and, as an educator, I recognize the first step in getting rid of bias and barriers is accurate knowledge.”
Counties are well-positioned to lead action on the mental health crisis, because counties play an integral role in local health, justice and human services systems. Direct mental health service delivery responsibilities are falling increasingly to America’s counties, which serve as the nation’s safety net for residents in need, act as first responders, operate crisis lines, and manage public hospitals and detention centers.
“I am excited about working with a cross section of experts in the field to unearth the models that work in our communities and identify ways to fill the gaps for counties across the U.S.,” Burke said.
For more information about NACo’s Commission on Mental Health and Wellbeing, visit www.naco.org/resources/signature-projects/naco-commission-mental-health-and-wellbeing.
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