- Original Reporting
- Sources Cited
|Original Reporting||This article contains new, firsthand information uncovered by its reporter(s). This includes directly interviewing sources and research / analysis of primary source documents.|
|Sources Cited||As a news piece, this article cites verifiable, third-party sources which have all been thoroughly fact-checked and deemed credible by the Newsroom in accordance with the Civil Constitution.|
CHATHAM — Leaders at a local nonprofit broke down walls in a South Side building last week in anticipation of a mental health services facility opening in the community.
Trilogy, a nonprofit founded over 50 years ago to provide comprehensive care services to people in mental health recovery, is launching a support center in Chatham at 8541 S. State St.
Leaders at Trilogy joined Ald. William Hall (6th), whose ward includes the Chatham building, to break a wall at the center with mallets late last week.
The facility will provide “integrated health care” on the South Side, said Susan Doig, president at Trilogy. Neighbors can soon visit the center to have primary and psychiatry care and nursing services taken care of all in one location, Doig said.
For now, neighbors can visit the Chatham office for peer-run drop-in services, Doig said. People with behavioral health diagnoses or in recovery from substance use disorders lead the initiative to serve people, Doig said.
Trilogy invested $2.3 million to buy the State Street building, Doig said. They’ll need about another $1.5 million to “break down walls, literally,” and build out the space to offer support to staff and clients similar to their Rogers Park main office at 1400 W. Greenleaf Ave., Doig said.
The building, formerly the Mercy Medical in Chatham, went on sale in 2022, according to Chicago Business Journal.
Construction will start in early 2024 and could be completed in four to five months, Doig said. If all goes according to plan, South Side neighbors could begin receiving comprehensive mental health care at the Chatham center by the end of 2024, Doig said.
“The need is now,” Doig said. “Mental health needs are huge, and residents of South Side communities need more access. They needed it yesterday. This is important in the investment in healthy communities as a whole.”
Whenever Kimberly Casey drives past Trilogy’s Chatham building, she points it out gleefully to whoever’s in the car with her, she said.
Casey, a Trilogy board member, has lived in Englewood since 2000, she said.
For years, Casey’s heard reports about the lack of mental health care investments on the South Side and the toll it has taken on her community, she said.
In 2012, former Mayor Rahm Emanuel closed half of the city’s 12 mental health clinics — a majority of which were on the South Side — to bridge a $369 million budget gap.
After years of gab from all circles, it’s impressive to see “somebody is actually doing something about it,” including Hall, Casey said.
“Being able to physically see the space gives people hope that they haven’t been forgotten,” Casey said. “It gives me, as a board member, a sense of pride about the organization I’m serving.”
Living in a South Side community gives Casey the “first line of sight to some of the issues that people are grappling with,” she said. That boots-on-the-ground approach allows Trilogy to support neighbors in a way best meant for them, Casey said.
“In order to understand the needs of the community, you have to be in the community in a way that’s authentic to the people that live there,” Casey said. “Being a [South Side] resident gives me a good understanding of what the gaps are and how organizations can fill in some of those gaps.”
Trilogy’s mission is to provide immediate access to neighbors to improve their quality of life, Doig said.
A 2019 study from the National Library of Medicine found people living with severe mental illnesses can die up to two decades earlier than the general population. That’s often because of “co-occurring medical problems where people get left out of care,” Doig said.
Staff at Trilogy can assist people living with “serious mental illnesses, like schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, and things that are harder to treat and more complicated,” while also catering to their primary care needs, Doig said.
On the South Side, where mental health is listed as the top concern for neighbors of all ages, Trilogy’s work is especially imperative, Doig said.
“We want to start closing that gap of mental health care,” Doig said. “People on the South Side and people of color report higher rates of trauma and depression and have less access to care. It makes sense from an equity perspective that we would be opening a full office on the South Side.
“This is an investment for generations. We’ve been open for 50 years. We want to continue to serve South Side communities and help communities be healthier and heal. That’s the goal.”
Trilogy will soon offer mental health awareness training where community organizations can learn how to support struggling friends, family and neighbors, Doig said.
Exposing more neighbors to the necessity of mental health care will hopefully also reduce any stigmas they might associate with such treatment, Doig said.
The Chatham office will be a destination “to build community,” Doig said.
“We want to be an educator and a resource for the community and families,” Doig said. “We want to be a community partner and a resource and grow as the need arises.”
Listen to the Block Club Chicago podcast: