Chicago activists call for increased mental health funding

Activists in Chicago are calling for the city to invest in mental health clinics across the city. Many fear the country will suffer a mental health crisis as the COVID-19 pandemic draws to a close and activists hope the city will work to invest in mental health programs in the city.

Southside Together Organizing for Power held a demonstration on Monday where they petitioned Chicago Mayor Lory Lightfoot to further invest in mental health services in the city. The protest came on the nine year anniversary of former Mayor Rahm Emmanuel closing half of the city’s mental health clinics as a part of austerity measures.

 

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The group is calling for the mayor to invest part of the $1.8 billion the city is set to receive through the American Rescue Plan to rebuild the city’s mental health infrastructure. The group also wants to see an investment in a Treatment Not Trauma non-police crisis response pilot.

Chicago currently has five mental health clinics that are operated by the city. In a statement, the mayor responded to the protest by citing the mental health clinics the city operates and the 32 trauma-informed care centers across the city that are adding mental health professionals.

Many health experts fear that a flurry of mental health crisis’ will appear after the COVID-19 pandemic ends. Long periods of isolation combined with the human toll of a deadly pandemic may leave some with long term mental health problems. Some research also shows that those who survive COVID-19 may still develop mental health issues in the months following their recovery.

Mental health issues may have also played into a surge of opioid deaths that Illinois suffered from last year. Data from 2020 shows a 30% increase in opioid deaths from 2019, with experts citing the pandemic making it hard for patients to receive regular treatment as a reason for the spike.