My 2023 wish for Chicago is more conversations about mental health every day, not just in the immediate aftermath of a crisis. Mental health is healthy and we don’t want people’s struggles against it to go unspoken.
That’s why, under the leadership of Mayor Lori Lightfoot, the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) expanded access to mental health services, reaching 15 times more residents than it did in 2019.
While expanding access, we need to continue to change the mental health conversation. Reduce stigma and share information widely when new resources become available.
Going back to 2019, we took a closer look at the data. About 3,600 Chicagoans received CDPH-funded mental health treatment that year, including at his five city-run mental health clinics. None of these residents were under the age of 18.
This clearly did not meet the city’s needs, but the correct answer was not as simple as opening an additional clinic.
In a city of 2.7 million people with huge unmet mental health needs, including young people at risk and those with needs that are never met in outpatient clinics, say 6,000 inhabitants We didn’t think big enough about providing services or opening clinics.We decided to aim for ten times that number. 60,000 Chicagoans receive high-quality, barrier-free mental health care regardless of insurance status, immigration status or ability to pay. More than that, we wanted to treat children, integrate physical health and substance use treatment, and provide treatment beyond the walls of traditional clinics.
In just three years, even during a pandemic, we achieved that ambitious goal. Last year, 60,000 Chicagoans received quality mental health treatment funded by CDPH, down from 3,600 in 2019. About 15,000 of those treated were children, up from her 0 in 2019. No matter your income, insurance status, or immigration status, know that more mental health services are now available in your neighborhood.
Starting in 2019, the Mayor and Council will be able to increase the department’s mental health budget sevenfold from $12 million to $89 million, double the number of city employees engaged in mental health, and build capacity at trusted community sites I made it We invested heavily in city-run clinics, adding evening hours, language access, telemedicine, and pediatric clinicians. We also focused on the trauma-informed care model. This takes the conversation away from a “what’s wrong with you?” conversation. A stigma-inducing framework for “what happened to you?” A framework that invites empathy.
CDPH is currently funding a new network of 50 mental health clinical organizations collectively known as Trauma-Informed Centers of Care (TICC). TICC includes mental health clinics operated directly by CDPH, as well as community mental health centers, federally accredited health centers, and community-based organizations. Having publicly funded clinics in all 77 districts is no longer a pipe dream.
Chicago is also the first to integrate mental health professionals into the city’s 911 response system through its Crisis Assistance Response and Engagement (CARE) program. In 2023, he plans to expand the CARE team to create alternative destinations for patients, including a new sobriety center for those experiencing alcoholism.
Chicago is also newly funding integrated primary and behavioral health care across its homeless shelter system, which saw more than 5,000 patients last year. In late 2023, we will launch a stable housing program that allows people with homeless or untreated mental health or substance use problems to live in their own units while receiving on-site health care. .
Stigma still exists, and our ‘Do Not Speak’ campaign seeks to remind Chicagoans that it doesn’t have to be a quiet inner struggle to address mental health challenges. Help everyone by spreading the word about these new programs and resources, by not being shy about talking about their mental health challenges, and by having the courage to start conversations with people who may be struggling. A new national number 988 has been launched to support the mental health crisis. The 211 phased plan is also on schedule, with the launch of a call center in early 2023 after rolling out a website and database on food, housing and public service assistance in 2022.
Support is available throughout the city. To find the care you need, visit mentalhealth.chicago.gov, call 311, or call the CDPH Mental Health Clinic reception line at 312-747-1020.
Allison Arwady, MD is the Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health.
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