As Chicago’s Policies Turn Away Mental Health Patients, Protesters to Hold Vigil at Cook County Jail to Show Where They End Up

CHICAGO—(ENEWSPF)—March 24, 2014. With the city poised to terminate hundreds of paying clients from its mental health clinics, mental health advocates will hold a vigil outside of the state’s largest mental health provider – Cook County Jail – to draw attention to the place that people struggling with mental illness increasingly end up when denied service.

Mental health policy experts, current and former clients of Chicago’s public mental health clinics and supporters will gather for a candlelight vigil this Monday March 24th at 5pm on the steps of the Cook County Courthouse at 26th and California.

Appearing at a recent town hall held by the Mental Health Movement, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart once again pointed out the injustice of jails being used in lieu of adequate mental health treatment in communities. The town hall he appeared at highlighted the most immediate threat to mental health services – the city’s failure to join any provider network, triggering the termination of services for current Medicaid patients as the state moves towards managed care.  Testimony addressed the severe shortage of mental health services for Chicago’s most vulnerable, many of whom now have coverage through expanded Medicaid.

The Mental Health Movement is calling on the city health department to take immediate steps to join a provider network, allowing for continued service to current Medicaid clients and additional revenue from new clients.  Advocates argue that failure to do so will starve the mental health clinics by cutting off all revenue to the clinics and set the stage for closure of the remaining six clinics.  They are also urging the Chicago City Council to hold hearings on the city’s policies and the mental health crisis in Chicago, noting that the city failed to hold a single hearing about mental health services has been held in the last three years despite repeated promise to do so during the 2012 closure of half of the city clinics.

The Mental Health Movement fought hard in 2012 to stop the closure of six of the twelve city mental health clinics and points to the serious impact of those closures – a spike in hospitalizations, hundreds of former clients unaccounted for, a growing mental health problem in Cook County jail and many individuals who suffered serious consequences.

Source: Mental Health Movement