Prussing part of mayors' group that pushed for law Obama just signed

Prussing part of mayors' group that pushed for law Obama just signed

URBANA — A bipartisan group of mayors that advocated for the 21st Century Cures Act signed Tuesday by President Barack Obama includes Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing.

Prussing said she got involved in the Cities Thrive coalition hosted by New York City's first lady, Chirlane McCray, because its focus is on what she sees as much needed mental-health reform at the local and national level.

She called the Cures Act a good step forward.

"Mental health is a huge problem that affects most families one way or another. We need to remove the stigma by having an open discussion on how we can better invest in helping people cope and recover," she said.

The Cures Act authorizes $6.3 billion in new spending over the next decade, including $1 billion to battle the opioid drug epidemic over two years, plus mental health reform provisions and investments in biomedical research and other initiatives.

One in five people in the United States has a mental health issue in a given year, and the Cures Act will provide resources for thousands who have untreated, but treatable mental health and substance abuse issues, according to McCray.

The coalition said it plans to continue working to improve the nation's mental health system with Congress and the new administration.

Prussing was the only Illinois mayor who was part of the initial Cities Thrive coalition meeting in New York in November. She said she'll be working to get more central Illinois mayors involved.

The next question is how much funding from the new federal legislation could eventually come to Illinois and communities such as Champaign County to help families coping with mental health and addiction issues, Prussing said.

"I don't think we're going to get any help from the state. If there is federal money available, that would be great," she said.

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