NAPERVILLE – September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and State Senator Laura Ellman (D-Naperville)      is addressing the stigma attached to mental health issues and the mental health crisis in Illinois.

“Sadly, there’s still a lot of stigma surrounding people with mental health issues in America,” Ellman said. “We need everyone to look      at mental health the same way they do physical health and make sure anyone who needs help knows they’re not alone.”

The goal of National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month is to      raise awareness of the realities of suicide, help open up a conversation about mental health and connect individuals with mental health resources.

Research by the National Alliance on Mental Illness shows that about half of individuals who die from suicide are diagnosed with a mental disorder, but about 90% show symptoms of mental illness. Since the COVID-19 crisis began, the Center for Disease Control estimates that one quarter of young adults have contemplated suicide. If you, or someone you know is experiencing crisis or suicidal thoughts, call the national suicide hotline at 1-800-TALK (8255) or text NAMI at 741-741 to speak with a crisis counselor.

“There are so many people who are dealing with serious mental health issues, but they’re often afraid to ask for help,” Ellman said. “If you or anyone you know is experiencing mental health issues, please use the resources that are available, especially during these uncertain times we find ourselves living through.”

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NAPERVILLE - The Illinois Environmental Council released its first ever Lifetime Environmental Scorecard, calculating each sitting legislator’s lifetime average score of all votes cast on legislation affecting the environment in the Illinois General Assembly over the course of their legislative career. State Senator Laura Ellman has been recognized for a perfect voting record.

“My record on environmental issues reflects my priorities. Continuing to use science as a guide to ensure we have clean air to breath and safe water to drink will create a better Illinois for all who live in it,” Ellman said. “I stand with the residents in the district I represent to protect our environment and the health of our communities for generations to come.”

Legislators in their first term were only scored on their votes in 2019, the first and only year they were able to vote on bills impacting the environment due to the disruption of the 2020 regular legislative session by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Senator Ellman earned a 100% for their voting record on bills impacting the environment, using their power as a state legislator to protect and defend the people and environment in the district they represent,” said IEC Executive Director Jen Walling. “Senator Ellman is an emerging environmental champion in the General Assembly, and the Illinois Environmental Council applauds their work protecting our environment in Illinois.”

A total of 64 state legislators received recognition for scoring 90% or higher over the course of their legislative careers. 21 legislators scored a perfect 100% in their first year of recorded votes. IEC releases its scorecard in late summer of each year.

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NAPERVILLE – As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, small businesses are still facing added financial hardships, and State Senator Laura Ellman (D-Naperville) is urging local businesses       to apply for assistance through the second round of Business Interruption Grants.

“The challenges that have been created due to this pandemic are truly unprecedented,” Ellman said. “So many in the community      have worked tirelessly to follow the latest guidelines. It’s great to      see another round of these grants coming to these well-deserving businesses.”

The BIG Program has allocated $220 million in the second round for movie theatres, performing arts venues, concert venues and more to help them stay afloat through these uncertain times and make sure they have the means to open safely in the coming months.

BIG funds can be used to help businesses cover the costs of payroll, rent, utilities and other working capital during the time they have experienced interruptions due to the pandemic.

To ensure funds are distributed across the state and across business type, $60 million has been specifically allocated for heavily distressed industries, including indoor recreation facilities and amusement parks.

During the program’s first round of funding last month, it granted more than $40 million to small businesses across the state. Businesses in Will and DuPage Counties were awarded over $500,000 in $10,000 to $20,000 grants during the first round.

“These funds have and will continue to give businesses the ability to reopen with the new guidelines and provide a safer environment for employees and customer,” Ellman said.

Applications open tomorrow, Thursday, Sept. 17 and can be found on the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s website alongside a full list of criteria. 

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NAPERVILLE – The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency announced it will begin testing all community water supplies in the state for potential contaminants, a decision State Senator Laura Ellman (D-Naperville) says could help protect the health of both residents and the environment.

The Illinois EPA will begin testing for per- and polyfluoroaklyl substances (PFAS), human-made chemicals that do not occur naturally in the environment. They are widely used for      waterproofing and stain-fighting applications in a range of commercial products such as waterproof clothing, food wrappers and many household products.

“I’m glad to see the Illinois EPA being proactive and measuring the prevalence of PFAS chemicals in our water supply,” Ellman said. “This will allow us to learn more about concentration levels and variability of PFAS compounds, which in turn helps us understand risk. I expect this data will be very useful.”

According to the Illinois EPA, if PFAS chemicals are detected in concentrations above a certain level, additional assessments or actions may be needed to protect residents’ health and the environment.

“Our statewide drinking water investigation will produce essential data on these emerging contaminants, which will allow us to identify areas where action must be taken to reduce human health risks associated with these chemicals in drinking water,” said Illinois EPA Director John J. Kim.

The Illinois EPA will collect data on a total of 18 PFAS chemicals to help develop future regulations for PFAS levels in drinking water. The research is expected to take 12 to 15 months to complete.

For additional information, please visit the Statewide PFAS Investigation Network webpage.

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