Dec 06Increasing Mental Health Services in DuPage County
Loneliness is on the rise across America, and it poses a serious risk to not only our emotional health but also to our physical health. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy in a recent Surgeon General Advisory warns that “Loneliness is far more than just a bad feeling—it harms both individual and societal health. It is associated with a greater risk of cardiovascular disease, dementia, stroke, depression, anxiety, and premature death. The mortality impact of being socially disconnected is similar to that caused by smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day, and even greater than that associated with obesity and physical inactivity.”
Resident Services staff across Mercy Housing Lakefront recognized the need to address social isolation and mental health challenges, especially in the wake of the pandemic. In DuPage County, staff listened to the needs and hopes expressed by residents, and then worked with the Association for Individual Development (AID) and NAMI DuPage to design and implement the Mental Health Services for DuPage County Affordable Housing Residents Program at three of our communities, which are collectively home to approximately 777 low-income residents, including older adults, individuals with disabilities, and families with children.
AID and NAMI DuPage provide inclusive and welcoming groups with names like “Happiness Matters” and educational workshops focused on mental health topics. In addition, AID provides individual behavioral health case management and NAMI DuPage provides peer support services. Since residents across the three communities speak at least 14 different primary languages, interpretation and translation through the DuPage Federation’s Language Access Resource Center encourage participation by non-native English speakers.
The program has helped residents like Selma, who praises it for the laughter and joy it brings to the residents. Besides the opportunity to connect with other residents, Selma enjoys the program’s educational aspects. Previously she felt like she knew her emotions but did not understand how they were impacted by her body and her mind. “[The workshops] give us some common sense to understand ourselves. I found many things; I understand it; and I love it,” she shares.
The DuPage Community Transformation Partnership (DCTP) is a collaboration between DuPage County and DuPage Foundation that supports programs to address some of the community’s most urgent social service needs including food insecurity, housing instability, mental health, and substance use disorder. Mercy Housing Lakefront was grateful to receive a two-year grant of $82,710 for this program from the DCTP Fund, which is funded by a grant from the DuPage County Board through the American Rescue Plan Act.
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