Proposed Mental Health Clinic in Lawndale on November Ballot

Proposed Mental Health Clinic in Lawndale on November Ballot


Mental HealthA group of parishioners at St. Agatha Parish in Chicago’s North Lawndale community, where Father Larry Dowling is a pastor, along with other area residents, collected over 10,000 signatures to establish a new community run mental health clinic on the west side.

Mental health is based on a person’s condition concerning their psychological and emotional well-being.

Chicago’s History Providing Mental Health Services

According to Father Dowling, 15 years ago Chicago’s former Mayor, Richard Daley closed 30 mental health facilities, leaving eight open and neglected to  provide a budget to fund the remaining facilities. There is one mental health center that services the North Park area, however, one is needed on the west side of town. Obtaining authorization to open The Kedzie Center took persistence.

Before The Kedzie Center opened, the clinic went through a lengthy process to obtain approval from the city and state to operate. They went to the City Council of Chicago with their proposal of using 0.4 percent of their own profit or have fundraisers raise the money needed to open the facility, but the council turned down the proposal.

The State of Illinois was next in line to be convinced that this mental health clinic was needed, and finally, The Kedzie Center was approved. The mental health center serves the North, Albany, and Irving Parks areas and has been open since October 2013.

During this process, the state legislators passed a law that allows any group in a community to come together and work together to open mental health programs.

There are physical health services available in the community, but they cannot address mental health problems, due to the focus of primary medical services. Whereas, the purpose of a mental health clinic is to work toward a solution and provide some balance for those who need help.

Opening Westside Community Mental Health Center

On November 8, 2016, citizens will be asked to vote for the opening of The West Side Community Mental Health Clinic (WCMHC).

Once open, the WCMHC services will be available to anyone, whether or not they have the ability to pay. The proposed hours are 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

The clinic will provide help to anyone in need, services will not be limited to mental or physical health care. Counselors will be sent to schools to offer support for youth in the community, free of charge. The center will specialize in trauma counseling, crisis prevention, and mental health education.

The WCMHC will provide consistency, give the clients support, and encourage them to get through the obstacles they are facing. Trust is important as well, the patients need to know that they can rely on their counselors. Patience is important too. However, boundaries need to be established, otherwise, the patients may become too dependent on the mental health provider assisting them.

The counselors will help the patients come up with a game plan and set goals. Another area of focus would be to examine the positive and negative traits of the client. This will let them know that somebody wants to see their goodness, giving them hope for their future.

Father Dowling has been counseling for 30 years, and he says the key to the task is listening intently with the goal of seeking to understand. He explained that consistency is a major key when counseling, people need to know that the counselor is there for them. Being available for them on a regular basis is important when dealing with people, in order for them to open up.

By Davida Thompson
Edited by Cathy Milne


Interview: Father Larry Dowling – August 10, 2016

Featured Image Courtesy of Martine Perret for United Nations’ Flickr Photostream – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of Gricelda Vicario – Used With Permission


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