Community groups and healthcare providers urged the Chicago City Council to pass a budget amendment that would allow for $25 million in funds to pay for mental health services aimed at long-term trauma care. It would include funding to reopen the previously closed city-run mental health clinics and expand the services already provided by nonprofits, clinics, and hospitals across the city. The amendment was supported by multiple aldermen and a number of community organizations.
The amendment did not make it into the final budget that was passed in November. Chicago government continues to turn a blind eye toward the need for better mental health care. In 2012, six city-run mental health clinics were closed due to budget cuts. There is a dire need for increased funding. The facilities that currently exist are understaffed and lack staff with training in trauma. A studyfound that in the Southwest side of the city, there were only 67 clinicians to serve the area. This means there are 0.17 clinicians per 1,000 residents.
City officials said that any increases in the budget would likely not be used to reopen the closed state-run facilities and the city would likely use the funds to expand the existing network of providers. As it stands, many clinics have long waiting lists, and access to services is not guaranteed.
Meanwhile, Federal authorities announcedthey would be pulling funding from a Chicago psychiatric center amidst reports of physical and sexual abuse of young patients. Chicago Lakeshore Hospital receives a majority of its funding from Medicaid and stands to lose that funding if they fail to comply with federal regulations. Without federal funding, the facility will close, further reducing the availability of mental health care in the city. It is important that mental health care is available and of a high enough quality so that patients aren't placed in danger. The problems with Chicago Lakeshore highlight the impact that cuts in mental health funding place on the community.
If you or a loved one has a mental disability and has been arrested or convicted of a crime, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. Elizabeth Kelley specializes in representing individuals with mental illnesses. To schedule a consultation call (509) 991-7058.