Dear Chicago: Don’t forget the mentally ill

Former patient wants funding gaps closed

February 14, 2011

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The tight economy has governments cutting back where they can, and that has many Chicago residents worried the social safety net is getting frayed.
 
For example, outside of Medicaid, the state provides the bulk of mental health care funding, which is channeled to the City of Chicago and private non-profits who provide direct services. But the state cut funding levels last year, and that left thousands of the working poor without mental health care.
 
Trilogy Inc., a behavioral health care provider in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood, receives over 70 percent of its $3.9 million budget from grants and contracts with the State of Illinois. According to a statement from Trilogy, state funding cuts pulled $550,000 from their budget compared to the previous year. Cut backs forced them to eliminate staff and close upwards of 140 client cases. 
 
One of the clients affected by these cuts was Helena Carnes-Jeffries, 35. She experienced childhood sexual abuse and was later diagnosed with bipolar disorder. She had been a Trilogy client for 10 years.
 
In this commentary Carnes-Jeffries asks that Chicago’s new mayor and aldermen address gaps in mental health-care funding and pick up where the state left off.
 
Dear Chicago is a project of WBEZ’s Partnership Program. Helena Carnes-Jeffries was nominated for the series by the Neighborhood Writing Alliance.