Push To Open Chicago Psychological Well being Clinics 9 Years After Emanuel Closed Them – NBC Chicago
Activists from the Stop Chicago community urge Mayor Lori Lightfoot to invest in city-run mental health clinics across the city as the country’s mental health crisis is exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.
Nine years ago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration closed 50% of the city’s clinics, forcing some of the most critical patients to drive more than an hour to get the care they need.
Such is the case with Horace Washington Howard, who says his bipolar disorder has resulted in multiple run-ins with the police over the years.
He lived two blocks from Woodlawn Mental Health Clinic, which closed in 2012.
“I’ll take the bus on 63rd Street and then the El. It’ll take me about an hour and a half,” said Howard. “It only took me five minutes to walk here.”
A recent citywide survey by Collaborative for Community Wellness found that more than half of the city suffers from anxiety and / or depression.
The study found that of the 378 respondents, 90% were interested in free services in a city-run psychiatric clinic.
Dr. Arturo Carrillo, who helped conduct the survey, says timing is critical.
“We’re in the middle of a pandemic, community violence has intensified, and we’ve seen the aftermath of people suffering trauma go untreated all along,” said Carrillo. “As a result, we have an overwhelming demand for mental health services.”
Dr. Saloumeh Bozorgzadeh, of the Sufi Psychology Association, stressed that people have faced tough times during the pandemic that may add to the mental health crisis.
“Therapy and mental health cannot only be available to the privileged,” Bozorgzadeh said.
In a statement, Lightfoot’s office doubled mental health equity, saying the city has funded 32 trauma-informed care centers and is including mental health professionals in the 911 response system.
Her office also highlighted continued funding efforts with the existing five city-run psychiatric hospitals.