Since 1972, C4 Community Counseling Centers of Chicago have been providing outpatient mental health services to low-income men, women and children who live on Chicago's North Side. Two years ago, they started a transition to independence programs to meet the needs of young adults with mental illness.
"I come here because I found out that I had a mental illness, and I was in denial, and I needed help," said Lamont.
Lamont is 19 years old and hopes someday to become an actor. He is currently a student at Truman College.
"My main goal was to go back to school and be successful while I'm in there because I suffer from anxiety and depression," Lamont said.
Twenty-year-old Christina is a fine arts major at Columbia College. She comes to C4 twice a week.
"If I had like some programs in school or like if I have problems looking for a job I just come here to see my case manager," Christina said.
Lamont and Christina are just two of 36 young adults from the age of 16 to 23 who are part of the Transition to Independence-modeled program that was created by a doctor at the University of South Florida.
"It's not to transition them to the adult mental health system but really to help them make a successful transition to adulthood," said Shannon Garrison.
Garrison is the coordinator of the young adult services. There are four transitional domains that they address.
"And those are education, housing, employment and community living. Community living encompasses a wide variety independent living skills, such as helping clients learn how to take public transportation so they can get around on their own, managing money, time management, social skills training," Garrison said. "In order to be eligible for our program, they have to be present with some type of mental illness, whether that be a social, emotional or behavioral challenge."
Since becoming involved with the transition program, Lamont and Christina are making progress.
"Now I'm able to do those things like coping and stuff, like that I know how to manage that a little bit better than I did before. I'm in school, and I'm doing successful, and that's one of the things they helped me with," said Lamont.
"My dream job, I guess working at an art gallery or a museum," said Christina.
C4 is hoping to get more funding to expand this program. For more information on C4 and their young adult transition to independence program go to their website, www.c4chicago.org/ or call (773) 769-0205.