Advocates to Protest City of Chicago Plans to Starve Mental Health Clinics

Town hall to feature expert testimony on need for services, city policy shift

CHICAGO—(ENEWSPF)—February 26, 2014. With the city poised to terminate hundreds of paying clients from its mental health clinics, mental health advocates will hold a town hall meeting to protest the move and hear testimony from experts and those affected. 

Mental health policy experts, current and former clients of Chicago’s public mental health clinics and supporters will gather for a town hall meeting on Chicago’s mental health crisis this Thursday February 27th at 6pm at UE Hall, 37 S. Ashland.

They will highlight 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 will also address the severe shortage of mental health services for Chicago’s most vulnerable, many of whom now have coverage through expanded Medicaid.

All Chicago city alderman and Cook County Commissioners have been invited to attend as well as the Mayor and the city and county health department leadership.

At the town hall, the Mental Health Movement will call 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.  

“It broke my heart when they closed my clinic. Now they say my therapist can’t see me any more because I signed up for CountyCare. It took me almost six months to get a psychiatrist. They’re leaving us out to dry but we won’t go away!” says Gail Davis, a Mental Health Movement member and former consumer of services at the now-closed Beverly/Morgan Park Mental Health Clinic.