Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker joined the state’s human services and Google on Monday to unveil a new online portal for Illinois families to access behavioral and mental health resources for children that uses artificial intelligence and cloud computing.
The new portal, called Behavioral Health Care and Ongoing Navigation, or BEACON, uses Google AI’s natural language processing and document reading features. The portal can intelligently identify the unique needs of families as they research behavioral health care resources, and it will match them with the most relevant services and support programs available in their communities, a news release said.
The portal, which will be accessible statewide, will also help streamline the flow of research across different government agencies to create a more seamless user experience for families, the release said.
BEACON fulfills part of the governor’s transformation plan that was published last year. In its executive summary, the plan, titled “Blueprint for Transformation: A Vision for Improved Behavioral Healthcare for Illinois Children,” names the new, centralized portal as an important part of responding to the nationwide youth mental health crisis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the second-leading cause of death for the 10-24 age group, and the suicide rate increased more than 50% among that group between 2000-2021.
“We are doing away with decentralized, difficult-to-navigate behavioral health resources scattered across different agencies, providers, and websites,” Pritzker said in the news release. “Instead, families will have a modern, easy to use online system to guide them through the behavioral health universe. This is another example of Illinois is leading the way — to mobilize public-private partnerships and couple ingenuity with empathy.”