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Time for RxP program for mental illness

Published: Saturday, April 26, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT

We face many serious problems in Springfield. One we’re particularly concerned about is our mental health care system in crisis. We’re determined to address it through an important tool we call RxP, and explain why it’s critical we take on directly the troubling myths about it.

We were approached many months ago about carrying legislation to give psychologists prescription authority. We’re asking our colleagues to support the new version of Senate Bill 2187, granting psychologists who are specially trained the ability to help deal with so many people who now see their mental illnesses go untreated. It’s time for RxP in Illinois.

Prescribing psychologists will be well prepared after their training and clinical work to safely prescribe. Beyond their years of schooling to become licensed psychologists, they’ll go through rigorous courses in everything from anatomy, physiology, and biology to clinical medicine, psychopharmacology, and health assessment.

They’ll emerge knowing how medications for mental illness intersect with behavioral therapy and how to treat patients based on their specific problems and the best path to help them get better.

We’re putting in place a 2-year conditional license very similar to a medical residency. RxP training has been an unquestioned success in other states and in the U.S. military, and now we’re adding another layer of protection that can become a model for other states to follow.

Throughout the course of the training, the collaborating physician would meet regularly with the training psychologist to discuss patient treatment. There are many layers we are putting in place to make sure psychologists can prescribe safely and to ensure patient safety is always the top priority.

We’re hopeful this is the year Illinois takes a key step forward to help those with mental illness. RxP is the sensible path to move past the fear campaigns and toward the safe, comprehensive care our constituents deserve. 

Note to readers: State Sen. Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, and state Rep. John Bradley, D-Marion, are sponsors of Senate Bill 2187.

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