World Mental Health Day is this Sunday, October 10, and I find it uncanny that the theme of this year’s celebration, Mental health care for all: let’s make it a reality is almost identical to Josselyn’s new vision, Mental Health for all. While Josselyn can’t solve the world’s mental health crisis, we are making great strides in supporting the 100 communities where our clients reside.
Thanks to you, and our many supporters who also share our vision for Mental Health for all, we are dramatically expanding to make mental health for all a reality. Five years ago, we had 8 therapists on staff; today we have over 70. In the last Talk, I wrote about the tremendous addition we had to our psychiatric team. We added a 2nd location in Waukegan that now serves 1000 clients. We’ve launched Mental Health First Aid and certified 650 community members including hospital staff, teachers, students and parents. That’s 650 additional people who are now certified to recognize the signs and symptoms of a mental health crisis and how to refer someone to help.
While our progress has greatly exceeded my wildest hopes and dreams, we are just getting started. We’ve tripled the number of people we are serving in the last five years, and we are barely scratching the surface. Josselyn’s service area is NE Illinois, and in this region, there are 110,000 low-income Medicaid recipients with a behavioral health condition. The current provider capacity for these Medicaid recipients is approximately is approximately 20,000. That leaves 90,000 people in need of treatment with no option, and that doesn’t include the undocumented and working poor who don’t qualify for Medicaid. And, this data was gathered before the pandemic which has had a major impact on people’s mental health, especially frontline and healthcare workers, children and teens, people living alone and those with pre-existing medical conditions.
So that is why Josselyn is not resting on its laurels for one minute. Josselyn’s amazing staff and board is so driven and dedicated to helping more people, and strengthening the organization so that we can celebrate another 70 years! I’m proud to work alongside this inspirational group of healthcare heroes.
This Sunday, please take a minute to reflect on how you might make mental health a reality for all. Check in on a friend or family member living alone. Sign up for a Mental Health First Aid training class. Do something for your own mental health like taking a walk and enjoying the beautiful leaves that are just beginning to change. And, of course, consider a gift to Josselyn so that we can continue to support the hundreds of new clients coming to us each and every month.
Let’s make Mental health for all a reality, indeed!