New program helps bridge gaps in mental health services support on Chicago's West Side

ByStephanie Wade WLS logo
Monday, February 27, 2023
New program bridges mental health services gap
A new program being funded by the state bridges the gap between crisis care and long-term mental health care on Chicago's West Side.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The state of Illinois is funding a first of its kind program aimed at improving mental health services support on the West Side of Chicago that will start seeing patients in just one week.

Seven years ago, Amonee Bell found herself in a mental health crisis.

"I felt hopeless, I felt small, and I basically felt like I didn't have a voice," she said. "You're crying, you're obviously distraught, but nothing is working."

She admitted herself to the hospital for depression and anxiety. When she was released, the doctor told her there was a four month waitlist before she could be seen by a doctor for long-term care.

"It was a lot of run around. So within that time, there is no help. So you have to dig yourself out of your own ditch," Bell said.

"That's just the bottom line. Everybody needs help. And so trying to get you that help, sometimes you don't have it. And it's not to say that it's nobody's fault. It's not the hospital system's fault. It's not another community-based organization's fault. It's just part of the system," said Raenette Young, director of Collaborative Bridges.

Collaborative Bridges is a combined effort between hospitals and community organizations on the city's West Side which deal with crime, low income and a lack of resources, to help bridge the gap between hospitals and long-term care services. The program is funded by the Illinois Department of Health and Family Services.

"From the hospital, to services, and then to long-term services. Because right now, it's hospital, no services, long-term. And in that, where there's no services, is the problem," Young said.

Statistically, one week after people leave inpatient psychiatric care their suicide death rate is 300 times higher than the general populations, and 200 times higher after the first month, according to the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention.

This program is determined to prevent anyone from falling through the cracks.

If you are experiencing suicidal, substance use or other mental health crises please call or text the new three digit code at 988. You will reach a trained crisis counselor for free, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also go to or dial the current toll free number 800-273-8255 [TALK].