Ald. Jason Ervin (28), representatives from AFSCME Council 31, employees of the city’s mental health clinics, and mental health self-advocates are holding a press conference today at 11:00 a.m. to “discuss a new plan to expand public mental health treatment options in neighborhoods of greatest need by expanding community outreach and hiring needed staff for city mental health clinics,” partially in response to the police shooting of Quintonio LeGrier.
“Recent tragic events such as the fatal shooting of Quintonio LeGrier have shone stark light on the urgent need to reverse years of cuts and closures to public mental health services in Chicago,” a press release from AFSCME reads. Six of the city’s 12 mental health clinics were shuttered in 2012.
Mayor Emanuel recently announced changes to CPD’s crisis training for dealing with mental health issues, and a 24-member “Citywide Mental Health Response Steering Committee,” though their recommendations mostly involve police response and crisis intervention training.
As we reported last week, the Chicago Department of Public Health has one full time psychiatrist for the city’s six remaining mental health clinics, which are mostly on Chicago’s South and Southwest sides. Contractors have been working other psych hours at clinics–some have been there for more than a year. CDPH has touted spending on targeted programs for families of homicide victims and victims of sexual assault, and has blamed a national shortage of psychiatrists for staffing problems.
An ordinance Ervin introduced at last month’s City Council meeting would beef up staffing, require new contracts with managed care contracts, and compel CDPH to increase outreach about available resources.