DECATUR, Ill. – State Rep. Sue Scherer, D-Decatur, is commending the decision to name a Springfield mental health center after Elizabeth Parsons Ware Packard, a local advocate for women and mental healthcare.
“Elizabeth Parsons Ware Packard turned the injustice she faced into positive change, and I hope this commemoration encourages new generations to learn about her and continue her work,” said Scherer.
The Elizabeth Parsons Ware Packard Mental Health Center, located in Springfield, will honor Packard’s work in the late 1800s to reform mental health treatment. Packard was unjustly interned at the then insane asylum after disagreeing with her husband on issues such as slavery and religion. At the time, a husband could have his wife involuntarily committed to an asylum at his discretion. Once free, Packard fought to increase the quality of mental health care in Illinois and end the inhumane treatment of the mentally ill at the state’s insane asylums.
Her legacy and commitment are seen today in legislative efforts to expand access to mental health care. Recently, Scherer voted for pro-mental health measures such as one that creates a mental health crisis hotline and another that allows students to take mental health days away from school.
“Mental health is real health, and we need to continue to prioritize addressing the needs of those suffering, often silently,” said Scherer. “I will continue to stand up and lend my voice on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves. I am proud of the decision to honor Packard, a fierce woman who fought to improve the lives of others.”