SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Paul Faraci is leading a measure to give veterans and first responders access to mental health providers of their choice.

“We have to give veterans and first responders proper access to their preferred mental health services,” said Faraci (D-Champaign). “Right now, we have police and firefighters who can’t receive mental health services from trained professionals of their choice and we need to change that.”

The legislation is in response to a situation in Champaign where several firefighters were unable to engage the mental health counselor of their choice based on a non-compete clause in the counselor’s contract. When a mental health professional leaves their employment with a provider, often times there is a non-compete clause in their contract, leaving them unable to provide services within a 50-mile radius for two years. In the 52nd District, a non-compete clause would not only prevent a mental health counselor from providing services in Champaign, but it would also stop them from providing services in surrounding communities, including Urbana, Rantoul and Danville. Police, fire and veteran organizations often want to contract mental health professionals that have a shared background or an establishment of trust with the organization, making these non-compete clauses detrimental to mental health care access for first responders and veterans.

Faraci’s legislation would allow every trained mental health professional to provide these much-needed services to any first responder or veteran, regardless of whether they have a non-compete clause in their employment contract. The change would give first responders additional access to mental health services and allow organizations to use their preferred mental health professional.

“We are pleased that Senator Faraci has recognized the importance of the health and welfare of our members. We also appreciate the support of the IL AFL-CIO and the IL General Assembly in creating a path for that to happen,” said Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois President Chuck Sullivan.

Senate Bill 2737 passed the Senator Labor Committee on Wednesday and awaits consideration before the full Senate.