Community mental health services are a lifeline. When they’re available, mental health consumers and survivors in Illinois often live successfully as full members of the community. When these services are missing, the consequences are devastating—lost homes, lost jobs, lost lives. A relatively small amount of money spent on mental health centers keeps people out of more costly settings like jails, hospitals and nursing homes.
The key is providing community services that give more tools to us—the consumers of mental health services and survivors of the mental health system. We will do the rest. We will build new lives for ourselves, and we will contribute to the community.
Next Steps in 2009 joined other advocates in protests that halted the closures of four Chicago city mental health clinics used by thousands of people. Next Steps’ Fred Friedman was quoted about the importance of the centers in several news stories, including by Chicago Breaking News and the Sun-Times. The protests were examples of the power of ordinary people uniting to show our support of mental health. However, the city is not adequately funding or staffing these centers. Next Steps calls on the city to bring full services to these city clinics and rehire staff that have been laid off.
Around Illinois, state funding cuts are curtailing services at many mental health centers. Illinois must restore full funding of these vital services statewide.