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August 19, 2022

Champaign Co. Mental Health – Money for movies vs Mental Health Services…again!

By Kirk Allen & John Kraft

On October 31, 2017

Champaign Co. (ECWd) –

Once again, the Champaign Mental Health Board has voted to approve Mental Health funds for Robert Ebert’s Film Festival.   Although this year they tried to categorize the expenditure as an anti-stigma event, the fact remains the funds are for a sponsorship of a movie at Robert Ebert’s Film Festival.  We exposed their spending of $100,000.00 of Mental Health tax money on this program last year in this article.

Although there was a good discussion on the matter, it was clear there was a concern with board members as to the value of spending money on a film versus spending money on those who truly need it.

The justification for spending $15,000.00 on a movie sponsorship appeared to be more about the fact they have done it for many years rather than does it really help anyone for real Mental Health matters.

One person can be heard insinuating that there are others who do not believe this is a legitimate activity for a Mental Health Board.

Based on the conversation during the meeting, it sounds like others were questioning the expenditure but not as a matter of whether it was a legitimate activity but more as to whether or not it is the best use of Mental Health Funds required to be used for services of those in need, not movies to bring awareness to the public about those in need.

A board member can be heard claiming past spending on Ebert Fest has been a big success as part of his justification, all while another speaker appears to disprove such a claim.

“We might not have a way to measure it, about the impact of Ebert Fest, this is not biology calculus or algebra, this is a Social Science we are talking about. It’s not always measurable.”

We are confident that most would agree, tax dollars taken for the purpose of providing services to the Mental Health of members of their community is better served with direct Mental Healthcare, not propping up the Robert Ebert’s Film Festival as part of a Social Science experiment that by their own admission has no means of measuring its success.

This years allocation of $15,000.00 to Eber Fest brings their 5-year running total to $115,000.00

The board discussion begins at the 1:01:25 mark of the audio.  Although a very interesting discussion, the one lone “NO” vote raised the awareness as to the most important question that no one has answered since our first writing about this last year.

If the mission is to provide services for the prevention and treatment of mental or emotional, developmental and substance abuse disorders, we must ask, what “service” is the Ebertfest providing to those people in need?

We understand the concept of awareness and anti-stigma, however, awareness and anti-stigma programs do not provide “services” to those who need it.
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5 Comments
  • Eric Pratt
    Posted at 15:30h, 31 October

    I have suffered a LOT as a result of people in my life with mental health issues, and no, I am not being funny. It is no exaggeration when I use the word”suffer.” Any money diverted from confronting mental health issues is bogus.

  • Mike
    Posted at 16:27h, 31 October

    The name is “Ebert.” I appreciate the extensive time and effort that makes this blog informative. However, proofreading and spellchecking are too often needed.

    • jmkraft
      Posted at 19:27h, 31 October

      We could use some volunteers…are you available?

  • Dennis Finegan
    Posted at 19:28h, 31 October

    I believe this should be the Roger Ebert’s Film Festival. The money should not support this festival for any reason.

  • Joe
    Posted at 17:47h, 01 November

    I am thinking that 15k would have bought a lot of therapy hours. Suicides rise during the holiday season. This story just made me sick. The lack of humanity in the elected officials that partied away somebody’s life saving intervention is so disturbing… just so disturbing.

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