Chicago launches $3.1M mental health expansion, projected to increase city services by 1500%

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the Chicago Department of Public Health on June 13 announced $3.1 million in new grants to expand city-funded outpatient mental health services across the city.

The grants facilitate the addition of 12 new providers to the 38 existing providers in the city's Trauma-Informed Centers of Care network. This multimillion-dollar increase in funding brings the network's total city funding to $11.5 million annually.

The network provides mental health services to adults, youth and families in their communities, regardless of health insurance coverage, immigration status or ability to pay.

Ms. Lightfoot's 2019 action plan hopes to build comprehensive and integrated networks of mental health services across every neighborhood. This framework was bundled with a sevenfold increase in funding for mental health services, from $12 million in 2019 to $89 million in 2022. 

This framework and grants will allow approximately 60,000 Chicagoans to receive city-funded mental health care, a 1,500 percent increase compared to the 3,651 receiving services in 2019, according to the city. 

"We want people to know about this program because we don't want people to go untreated, uncared for. We want people to get the help that they need," Ms. Lightfoot said at a June 13 news conference.

The funding increase for trauma-informed care complements Chicago's effort to improve existing mental health centers and services, including physically renovating all sites, launching telehealth services, expanding evening hours, launching a child and adolescent mental health program, and hiring a new team of psychiatric nurse practitioners and clinical therapists.

"By using a trauma-informed approach with critical funding from the Chicago Department of Public Health, ACCESS is able to expand our support for pediatric patients and their families by providing behavioral health care and psychiatry integrated into our primary care model to address issues ranging from anxiety to bullying to exposure to violence in all its forms," Donna Thompson, CEO of Access Community Health Network, said in a June 13 press release.

To learn more about CDPH's Mental Health Equity initiative, click here.

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