Mental Health Services Are Coming to the North River Community
74% of Voters Approve North River EMHSP
On June 19, the North River Expanded Mental Health Services Governing Commission held its inaugural meeting to begin the work of restoring vital community mental health services to the North River community. The program, approved by 74% of voters on November 6, 2012, will restore mental health services that have been eliminated from the North River community due to City and State budget cuts.
The 9-member Governing Commission, comprised of local residents, mental health professionals, and mental health consumers, met at St. John’s Episcopal Church to begin the work necessary to obtain the new mental health funds and determine the services most needed in the North River community. At the initial meeting, the Commissioners set an ambitious plan that will allow them to fulfill all the requirements to establish the program and begin working on the new services to be provided.
The new services, called ‘expanded mental health services,’ cover a variety of different services that were once provided extensively in the North River community, but have been completely eliminated due to City and State budget cuts. These services can include counseling for local schoolchildren, veteran services, treatment of mood and anxiety disorders, senior-citizen services, family and couples counseling, and crisis and prevention services.
“North River Mental Health Center was once called a jewel of the community for the services it provided in the community. The meeting here tonight takes a great leap forward in restoring our community to its former status,” stated Mayfair resident Dorothy Robey.
Over the coming months the Commission will be working to establish the program and set service guidelines to assure that the services it provides meet the mental health needs of the North River community.
The Commission has set a regular meeting schedule of the third Wednesday of each month at 7PM at St. John’s Episcopal Church. All meetings are open and accessible to the public.
74% of Voters Say ‘YES’ to Mental Health,
Chicago’s First EMHSP Established
On November 6, 2012 voters in the North River area overwhelmingly approved the creation of the North River Expanded Mental Health Services Program (EMHSP). The passage of the referendum, approved by 24,602 voters, marks the first restoration of mental health services in a Chicago community in nearly twenty years and is the first EMHSP enacted in the City of Chicago.
“The voters in our community understood that we had a choice: we could sit by and watch as vital services were eliminated from our community, or we could make sure that our community tackled the issue head-on so that our schoolchildren, seniors, families, and veterans could get the help they need,” stated local resident Diana Bryant.
The effort to pass the latest referendum began with local volunteers going door-to-door last summer to collect nearly 3,500 signatures to place the referendum question on the ballot. After the referendum question was successfully placed on the ballot, community members went door-to-door again educating their neighbors about the referendum question, how the program would work, and the impact it would have on the community.
The referendum question asked voters to approve a .004 property tax increase, an average of $16 per home per year, to restore mental health services cut from the North River community over the past twenty years. The funds are then used to provide mental health services free of charge to residents living in the territory.
“Year after year, for the past two decades we have watched as the City cut mental health services from our community. But last November we had the chance to tell them what we think, and we told them loud and clear: We want more mental health services!” concluded Diana Bryant.