Chicago’s budget now supports more mental health services, right in the neighborhood

Chicago is a city of neighborhoods, and it’s a source of pride for our great urban city. When communities come together to support their schools, their safety and their health, relationships are formed and a great city becomes more manageable, friendlier and more familiar.

Our City of Neighborhoods status is one of the most powerful reasons Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced the Mental Health Equity Framework in 2019, when her administration sought to address the serious and growing need for health services. mental illness for Chicago residents. He called for a significant investment by the city in creating a network of 50 neighborhood mental health providers who would provide services to all residents, regardless of health insurance status, immigration status or their ability to pay.

And we’re here to tell you, as service providers serving our communities every day: the strategy is working.

Before the end of this year, the city plans to fund a mental health clinic in every Chicago neighborhood. The network, in 2022, will have served 60,000 inhabitants, compared to 3,600 inhabitants in 2019.

This massive expansion of mental health services coincided with a sevenfold increase in the city’s mental health budget, from $12 million in 2019 to $86 million in 2022.

As frontline providers in our communities, sometimes for decades, we see all too clearly the immense need for mental health services at all ages and in all parts of the city. Less resourced communities suffer more from years of disinvestment, but make no mistake about it: trauma, substance use disorders, social conditions that affect health, anxiety, depression – all of this runs through the neighborhood boundaries. Adverse conditions don’t really care where you live or how much money you have.

What matters, and what always has, is where and how quickly Chicagoans can get help, prevention, and long-term support.

Because of the trust we have built in our communities – through awareness, familiarity, convenience and more – our programs can truly connect with our neighbors. We can provide a range of mental health services to adults, young people and families in their own communities, often with people they know in their neighbourhood.

Here are two examples of how increased city funding has improved our ability to serve patients:

Alivio Medical Center, which has been providing behavioral health services in Chicago for 17 years, is now able to focus on integrating behavioral health into primary care and then expanding it. Alivio also now has a diverse group of bilingual and bicultural providers, including in our three school-based health centers. And Alivio was able to increase access to services for underinsured and financially challenged residents of South Lawndale and the Lower West Side.

Consider the case of a 28-year-old Latina who sought psychiatric and behavioral health services this spring due to a history of struggles at school, work and in relationships. She had no insurance or ability to pay, but now receives ongoing support to deal with anxiety, depression and attention deficit disorder. Her relationships and work performance have improved, as has her ability to manage her mental health symptoms.

At Habilitative Systems, Inc. on the West Side, city funding is supporting more services offered through a trauma-informed lens because addressing the impact that decades of disinvestment has had on communities is critically important. neighborhood residents.

Services include intensive family intervention, care management and therapeutic services for youth and adults with mental health issues and those at risk or in crisis. It is important to note that nearly half of the people employed at HabilitativeSystems live in the communities they serve.

With city funding, the Habilitative Systems team helped a patient who was seeking services due to severe anxiety and low self-esteem, providing her with therapy that helped her achieve her goals. back to school and manage anxiety symptoms. The patient had a history of trauma and, with the support of her therapist, was able to recognize the role of trauma in her life and learn to engage in the healing process.

Our city budget must continue to provide funds to support our vital work. Your neighbors depend on it.

Donald Dew is President and CEO of Habilitative Systems, Inc. Esther Corpuz is CEO of Alivio Medical Center.

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