Member Groups

Mental Health Matters
The newsletter of the ISBA’s Mental Health Law Section

December 2016, vol. 3, no. 2

Letter from the Chair

Joseph T. MonahanWelcome back to the 2016-2017 Mental Health Law Section Council newsletter! It has been an active year thus far for the Section Council in its efforts to engage, educate, and lead stakeholders interested in mental health issues. Over the past months, we have tracked Illinois Appellate and Supreme Court cases impacting the receipt and delivery of mental health and intellectual disabilities services, and advanced legislative and policy proposals. Further, the Mental Health Law Section Council has worked diligently to craft continuing legal education programs on the topics of outpatient treatment and mental health issues involving children.

A number of mental health professionals have addressed the Section Council this year, adding their experience and perspectives to our discussions. Alexa James, MS, LCSW, executive director of NAMI Chicago, gave a presentation about Chicago’s current state of crisis response for persons suffering from a mental illness and her organization’s efforts and leadership in the Police Accountability Task Force De-Escalation Working Group and Crisis Intervention Training. (See the article written by Dara M. Bass in this issue.) Additionally, Jesse Viner, MD, CEO and Executive Medical Director of Yellowbrick Consultation and Treatment Center, presented on the basic neurobiological principles and developmental factors associated with young adults diagnosed with a mental illness and the services his organization provides to emerging adults aged 17-30 (See the article written by Susan O’Neal in this issue.).

As 2017 approaches, we have the opportunity to reflect on both the triumphs and setbacks of 2016 and to contemplate the challenges of the New Year ahead. The November election has cast a pall of uncertainty over the fate of the Affordable Care Act and what priorities, as-yet-unknown, the new administration may pursue regarding mental health issues. However, federal legislation recently passed the House that, if implemented, will enhance the enforcement of mental health parity laws and potentially increase access to mental health treatment and services.

Over the rest of the bar year, the Mental Health Law Section Council will continue to host diverse speakers to help navigate these issues and guide us in our ongoing work. Depending on space availability, ISBA members may attend these monthly meetings in person. There is also a call-in option for those interested in attending. Please contact Mary Grant at for monthly call-in information. Next month, keep an eye out for our 2017 Illinois state law update.

On behalf of the entire Section Council, best wishes to you and yours for a happy and safe holiday season.


Joseph T. Monahan, MSW, JD, ACSW is the founding partner of Monahan Law Group, LLC, in Chicago, which focuses its practice in mental health, confidentiality, guardianship, probate, and health care law. His clients include hospitals, outpatient mental health clinics, and mental health professionals. He may be contacted at