Mental Health:

Local Solutions for Local Problems

By: President Mike Corrigan



Last month, voters in five communities across Chicagoland cast ballots to create local, publicly subsidized mental health commissions. This is giant step forward for local governments, non-profits, and other health care providers who have struggled for years to provide adequate mental health services to friends and neighbors, many of whom are unable to pay for private treatment. We are grateful to the Association of Community Mental Health Authorities of Illinois for leading this charge to expand the number of communities with mental health boards.

 Established in 1966, the Proviso Township Mental Health Commission (PTMHC) is one of the oldest mental health boards in Illinois. Local mental health boards are a crucial part of the social safety net, and we are pleased to see more communities choose to solve local issues with local solutions.

 Like any other illness that is left untreated, behavioral, and mental health can spiral out of control, costing society far more in crisis intervention than if problems were addressed early on. As a local government agency, we know the struggles of our community intimately and can address those needs deftly.

 Community mental health care is not just psychiatrists and group therapy though, we know that housing, transportation, domestic relationships, education, and law enforcement are all connected. At the PTMHC, we can identify issues and help agencies with funding to address those issues while sustainable funding sources are sought. This year, the PTMHC funded over 20 community-based agencies that provide a wide range of services from counseling and therapy in our local schools, to addictions treatment, and senior services that keep our elderly neighbors engaged in their communities.

 Social ills like road rage, bullying, domestic violence, substance abuse, and homelessness are all tied to community mental health and wellbeing. As a local entity, the PTMHC helps knit together agencies that might otherwise operate in silos.

 Our communities are only as strong and successful as our most vulnerable members. There is a lot of work to do in Illinois to address our health systems and mental health care specifically. As the boots on the ground though, local mental health boards see firsthand where their needs are and can be part of a larger solution to creating healthier, more productive communities.

 Mike Corrigan is President of the Proviso Township Mental Health Commission and Supervisor of Proviso Township