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Press Release from The Chicago Department of Public health (CDPH) Re: Psychiatry Services to Be Expanded For Over 1,000 People Across Chicago

Health & Medicine Policy Research Group (HMPRG)
April 23, 2012

Chicago Department of Public Health Mental Health Reforms Continue to Expand  

Access to Care

Funding Awarded To Increase Psychiatry Services For Over 1,000 People Across Chicago


Today, the City of Chicago's Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced community mental health providers who will be the recipients of $500,000 to expand mental health psychiatry services across Chicago.


"These funds will provide access to psychiatric services to over 1000 more persons with serious mental illness in Chicago that visit community mental health centers," said CDPH Commissioner Dr. Bechara Choucair.

This award is just one part of a larger effort established by CDPH to improve the quality of the mental health system in Chicago in order to expand access to mental health services and increase support for the uninsured. CDPH is  increasing its focus on serving the uninsured and expanding partnerships with community mental health providers with over 60 locations across the city, so that individuals can receive quality service in their communities.

"These changes are long overdue. We will finally begin to see the types of reforms that will allow community mental health providers to better partner with the City to serve more residents and improve the delivery of services in every neighborhood," said Dr. Carl Bell, President/CEO of the Community Mental Health Council.  

In addition to this $500,000 investment, $3 million has been made available to community providers to expand and integrate HIV testing and substance abuse treatment into mental health services.

"A strong collaboration between the City, federally qualified health centers and community mental health providers is critical to strengthening the mental health infrastructure in Chicago," said Eric Whitaker, MD, Executive Vice President for Strategic Affiliations and Associate Dean for Community-Based Research at the University of Chicago Medical Center.

CDPH's reform plan also improves the quality of services provided in its own mental health system. The plan calls for the consolidation of the City's twelve mental health clinics into six and not only maintains its capacity to serve its current 4,000 clients a year but expands its network by working with community mental health providers at over 60 community-based locations across the city. These community-based mental health providers will provide comprehensive services to approximately 600 of CDPH's existing insured clients once the reform plan is fully implemented. CDPH has released a detailed update on the progress being made during the transition. The update can be found here.

Community leaders and experienced mental health service providers also expressed their support for CDPH's reforms:

"As the newest member of Chicago's Board of Health, I applaud CDPH's focus on the uninsured and look forward to working closely with the Department to monitor the progress of these changes," added Apostolic Faith Church Bishop Horace E. Smith, M.D.

"I applaud the City for looking at additional funding sources to support mental health and for focusing on one of the city's most vulnerable populations, the uninsured," said Dr. Terry Mason, Chief Medical Officer at Cook County Health & Hospital System.

"I commend the City for recognizing the need to expand psychiatric services in Chicago and for supporting the growth of community based mental health services in Chicago," said Joel Jonson, CEO of Human Resources Development Institute (HRDI)

"I am very grateful for the City's support and its focus on working with community partner's like LSSI to expand psychiatry services in the City's most underserved communities. It is a necessary step in improving the mental health system in Chicago," said Rev. Denver Bitner, D.Min., President/CEO of Lutheran Social Services of Illinois.

"Supporting community mental health centers that meet the diverse cultural and linguistic needs of our communities is a crucial step towards improving the mental health system. I applaud CDPH's new approach to mental health," said Francisco Cisneros, Ph.D. President & CEO of the Pilsen Wellness Center.  

"I commend the Department's focus on improving mental health infrastructure city-wide. It is critical that we improve the overall system to better meet the needs of our communities," said Ricardo Estrada, President/CEO of Metropolitan Family Services.

In November 2011, CDPH began implementing reforms to improve access to mental health services across the city. CDPH plans to continue serving over 80% of its currently active clients in existing mental health centers, and 20%, or only 602, clients with insurance will be served by community mental health providers throughout the city - including the more than 60 CDPH locations of partner mental health providers. Every CDPH client transferring to a new facility, service provider, or therapist, has a personal transition plan developed in consultation with their therapist to ensure every client continues to have access to care. A detailed report on the progress being made during the transition can be found here.

Improving access to care is a CDPH public health priority outlined in Healthy Chicago, the City's plan with a vision of making Chicago the healthiest city in the nation. Through collaborative efforts and with a focus on policy, systems, and environmental factors, CDPH will continue to lead the improvement of the city's mental health system. For more information about Healthy Chicago or the CDPH mental health reforms visit   

The community mental health providers that have been awarded funding to increase psychiatry services across the city are Community Counseling Centers of Chicago (C4); Human Resources Development Institute (HRDI); Lutheran Social Services of Illinois (LSSI); Mercy Hospital; Metropolitan Family Services; Mt. Sinai Hospital; Pilsen Wellness Center; and Thresholds.