Saint Anthony Hospital – Community-Based Mental Health Services

Saint Anthony Hospital (SAH) Mental Health Services were established in 2003 to offer culturally sensitive counseling services and emotional support to adults who have limited or no access to health insurance. SAH providers help those experiencing chronic depression, anxiety, and the effects of trauma, as well as clients who are going through a difficult time or temporary life transition. The goal is to help clients regain control of their lives by improving their self-awareness, self-expression, self-worth, and problem-solving skills. Program leaders also provide clients with appropriate support and work to reduce the stigma associated with mental health issues. SAH employs four full-time therapists and one manager, all of whom have master’s degrees in social work, and two of whom are licensed clinical social workers. SAH clinicians supervise at least one bilingual, master’s level, social work intern each school year.

Overview

Saint Anthony Hospital (SAH) Mental Health Services were established in 2003 to offer culturally sensitive counseling services and emotional support to adults who have limited or no access to health insurance. SAH providers help those experiencing chronic depression, anxiety, and the effects of trauma, as well as clients who are going through a difficult time or temporary life transition. The goal is to help clients regain control of their lives by improving their self-awareness, self-expression, self-worth, and problem-solving skills. Program leaders also provide clients with appropriate support and work to reduce the stigma associated with mental health issues. SAH employs four full-time therapists and one manager, all of whom have master’s degrees in social work, and two of whom are licensed clinical social workers. SAH clinicians supervise at least one bilingual, master’s level, social work intern each school year.

Bilingual, bicultural, clinical social workers provide free individual and couples psychotherapy, and social workers lead free therapeutic and psycho-educational groups. Individual and couples clients generally receive 45-minute sessions once a week, and there is no maximum number of sessions for clients as long as they are making progress. Three distinct therapy groups are offered. Each group lasts approximately 12 weeks, and classes are held at community-based clinics and partner facilities. The integration of behavioral, medical and social services is what makes SAH Community Wellness unique among safety net hospitals and a role model for other community hospitals. SAH staff assess the needs of families and refer them to other external services, whenever appropriate. They take the time to understand what is truly happening in each family, engage them where they are, let them progress at their own pace, and complete proper follow-up and outcome tracking using a collaborative team approach and a broad network of partners.

The need for mental health services is growing. Between 2009 and 2012, the Illinois legislature cut roughly $187 million (or 30 percent of its mental health budget) from state-sponsored mental health programs; and in 2012, the Chicago Department of Public Health implemented a health reform plan that called for the consolidation of the city’s mental health centers, cutting their number from 12 to 6 clinics. Communities on Chicago’s West, South, and far South Sides have some of the highest rates of mental health hospitalizations in the metro area.

Impact

The number of clients receiving mental health services has increased by an average of 40 percent every year for the last five years. Of the 290 clients served in FY2016, 56 percent improved in  problem solving, 73 percent improved in self-awareness, 61 percent improved in self-expression, 78 percent improved in self-worth and 85 percent improved on the PHQ-9 – a questionnaire that measures a client’s level of depression.

Lessons Learned

Even though the team size has doubled in the last two years, simple FTE expansion is not enough to keep up with demand and minimize the wait list. Program leaders will continue to use a creative combination of group and crossover services to enhance the capacity of providers, and SAH will supervise master’s-level social work and psychology interns to bolster the local mental health workforce. Additionally, program leaders have gained a better understanding of their clients’ barriers to participation, and they proactively address these barriers by offering childcare and bus passes to promote appointment attendance.

Future Goals

The primary goal is to expand into new communities. Program leaders understand the significant transportation barriers local families experience; additional community-based sites will be identified so that services can be delivered as close as possible to the target population’s homes and work sites.

Contact: Bernadette O’Shea
Vice President/Chief Development Officer
Telephone: 773-484-4259
Email: boshea@sahchicago.org

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