2017 Principal Project

"Improving Mental Health in Our Community"

Rush's School-Based Mental Health Program

The Need: Screening, diagnosis, and treatment of mental health issues among Chicago's most vulnerable youth

Many Chicago inner-city neighborhoods face significant barriers in accessing health care.  A recent community health assessment of several West Side neighborhoods concluded that families and children in these communities suffer from exceptionally high rates of trauma-related disorders such as depression and anxiety, as well as high rates of unemployment, poverty and substance abuse.  Since 2010, Rush teams at three school-based health centers (SBHCs), operated by Rush teams within Chicago Public Schools, have identified an unprecedented 400% increase in mental health issues requiring treatment among the youth in these communities. 

The Plan: School-Based Mental Health Programs

As part of a collaborative effort to improve the overall well-being of residents in Chicago's underserved West Side neighborhoods, Rush plans to implement mental health programming delivered through three West Side Chicago Public Schools where Rush already runs school-based health centers (SBHCs).  These programs will provide comprehensive screening and treatment that specifically recognizes and responds to the impact of the challenges these children and families are exposed to on a daily basis.  It will also provide community-based training for family members, front-line community members and first responders.  The SBHCs at Orr Academy High School, Richard T. Crane Medical Preparatory High School and Simpson Academy for Young Women already act as a safety net by filling gaps in preventive and primary health care for students, parents and the surrounding community.  Currently at the centers, Rush staff see more than 1,400 youth each year in more than 4,000 visits and provide comprehensive primary care, health education and mental health screenings, making these centers an optimal vehicle for initiating this program.  

The Impact: The Rush Woman's Board and YOU... Making A Difference

The Woman's Board has committed to help fund this important initiative, and we invite you to join us in addressing this growing need.  With your support, Rush's comprehensive model of wellness and care will become a reality.  Together, we can help offer community-based mental health services and critical screenings to address the post-traumatic stress, trauma, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and feeling of powerlessness that often afflict children from neighborhoods with high rates of poverty, violence and crime.  This programming can become a model for other neighborhoods throughout Chicago and has the potential to be the basis for substantial critical change for the better.