The Crusader Newspaper Group

Chicago wants treatment not trauma

The Collaborative for Community Wellness (CCW) brings together mental health professionals, community-based organizations, and community residents to address the lack of mental health access and to redefine mental health to match the needs of the community. CCW worked with organizations across the city to place an advisory question on how the City should handle mental health care in the 20th ward, 33rd ward, and the 6th ward. The following is a statement by the collaborative on tonight’s election results.

“Tonight’s election results show that Lightfoot and Arwady are wrong. Chicagoans want the public mental health centers reopened and they want the city to send mental health care workers not armed police when individuals need mental health help. Voters know that private clinics and CPD are not able to provide the safe, accessible, and affordable care that all of us deserve,” stated Isabel Figueroa with 33rd Ward Working Families.

Preliminary results show a overwhelming majority of voters voting yes to the Treatment Not Trauma ballot referendum which appeared on the ballots in the 20th, 33rd, and 6th wards as: Shall the City of Chicago reopen all of the closed Chicago Department of Public Health mental health centers in support of a city-wide crisis response program that dispatches mental health professionals and an EMT to mental health emergency calls instead of police officers?

“Our neighborhood’s mental health center was closed by Emanuel and many residents were upset that Lightfoot broke her campaign promise to reopen it.  The precincts where we ran the referendum are the areas that have seen a large increase in mental health related 911 calls following the closures of the center. This referendum is an important way to make our voice heard even when our current Mayor and City Council are refusing to listen,” added Jamie Eskridge, 6th Ward resident and canvasser.

Asha Ransby-Sporn, a 20th ward resident and community organizer added, “The TNT referendum is especially important for Chicago’s Black and Brown communities most hurt by disinvestment and over policing. The 20th ward is an overwhelmingly majority Black ward that has experienced years and years of divestment and displacement, including the closure of the Woodlawn mental health center. Our city currently funds hundreds of vacant police officer positions — that’s money that could be going toward mental health workers trained to respond to crises with care instead of force. When the money is there, public opinion is there, there should be political will to invest in communities the way we need and know is possible. I’ve personally talked to hundreds of my neighbors on this issue — from healthcare workers, to my own loved ones, to elders and youth — and what we’ve heard is a resounding desire for City investment in mental health, not more policing.”

“Right now the City has not done enough to get community input on crisis response in Chicago. We hope that tonight’s election result will show Lightfoot and other elected officials that mental health is an issue that residents really care about,” concluded Dr Arturo Carrillo with the Collaborative for Community Wellness.

CCW is extremely thankful to all of our members and volunteers who helped engage voters on this important ballot question and specifically 33rd Ward Working Families for leading efforts in the 33rd ward, DefundCPD campaign leading efforts in the 20th Ward, and Southside Together Organizing for Power in the 6th ward.


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