Funding Urban Mental Health Care – A Rising Challenge

This festival is actually based out of Chicago, as in, the organizer and the people who help work on it are all in Chicago.

I definitely remember when Rahm Emanuel was mayor because it affected me quite personally. He cut funding to the libraries and we had to change our hours and lay off our pages who shelved all the books. This caused burnout among staff and a lot of complaints from patrons.

Rahm also received a lot of criticism for closing six public mental health clinics which have never been re-opened. Mayor Lori Lightfoot spoke in her campaign about re-opening them, but has instead decided to expand mental health services through “trauma-informed centers of care.” The public health commissioner has pushed back on the plan, saying that the public health clinics provide more comprehensive personalized care than a massive network that involves shifting outside organizations.

I know from my own personal experience that I didn’t really see stable improvement in my own symptoms until I built a relationship with a psychiatrist I trusted and received a higher quality of health care. Serving higher numbers with disparate providers seems likely to lead to some recidivism in symptoms even if it helps in the short term and boosts statistics.

It should be no surprise to anyone that the libraries work with many mentally ill patrons as they are free public buildings with cooling and heating services where patrons can spend an unlimited amount of time. It seems like we always see an uptick in mentally ill patrons when services are cut.

Though it must be difficult to measure, I’d be curious to see statistics about how many patients experience recovery through these different systems rather than going through a revolving door. Funding mental health for a large city where it runs rampant with factors like poverty, drugs, and trauma all contributing to the problem, is surely a complex issue with no easy solutions.

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