Expanded Mental Health Services Programs
The North River Expanded Mental Health Services Program is a new kind of mental health program. Nowhere else in the United States can one find a program and a mental health center tied so directly to the community it serves.
By law, the North River EMHSP services residents of Chicagoss North River area (including the community areas of Irving Park, Albany Park, North Park, and parts of Forest Glen), comprising some 130,000 residents in all.
By law, the North River EMHSP is paid for by residents of Chicagoss North River area as a result of their votes on four different referenda-- in 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2014-- to raise their property taxes a small set amount to support expanded mental health services.
And the law itself authorizing such funding by taxpayers (the Community Expanded Mental Health Services Act of 2011[405 ILCS 22/]) was conceived, drafted, introduced, passed in the Legislature, and signed by the Governor thanks to the efforts of those same community residents and their equally determined legislative sponsors.
Residents fought to gain the right to raise their taxes so the dream of expanded mental health services for all local residents who might need them could become a reality.
In 1963, President John F. Kennedy signed the Community Mental Health Act into law. This Act provided federal funds to create community mental health centers across the country and was based on the simple idea that individuals struggling with mental illness should be served in their local community. For decades these mental health centers provided quality services to countless Americans. However, when the federal funding ended and states were left to pick up the costs, most scoffed at the idea and our community mental health centers have been on the front lines of budget cuts ever since. In Chicago, over the past two decades, our public community mental health system was reduced from nineteen centers in 1991 to six centers in 2014. The Coalition has dedicated itself to restoring and improving the original ideals of community mental health by placing communities directly at the center of community mental health.