It is estimated that over 44 million people around the United States struggle with mental health. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, an opportunity to take time to address your own mental health and understand the resources available to you. This is a critical way to ensure the safety and well-being of not only you, but your family and friends as well.
Resources in Chicago
In recent years, Chicago has worked to improve access to mental health resources. In 2019, Mayor Lori Lightfoot launched the Framework for Mental Health Equity, a four-step strategy that includes expanding mental health programs, preventing violence to address mental health, increasing crisis prevention funding, and creating a coordinated system to care for individuals struggling with mental health. Additionally, Chicago has created several resources for residents, like a 24-hour hotline for mental health, multiple hospitals and clinics to help residents in a mental health crisis, and support groups.
Legislation to address mental health
Rep. Croke has sponsored a number of different bills that have been signed into law to assist those struggling with mental health or experiencing a mental health crisis, including:
- HB2595 —requires insurance to cover mental health services starting January 1, 2023. This bill works to expand the quality and consistent mental health coverage for everyone in the state.
- HB2784 —The Community Emergency Services and Support Act requires that 911 and 988 work together and focus on community care when it comes to calls dealing with mental health crises. Instead of fearing jail time for mental health issues, Illinois residents can receive proper care.
Activities to Improve Your Mental Health
Get active! Staying physically active can help improve mental health. Regular physical movement is known to help increase self-esteem and reduce anxiety, stress, and depression. There are so many ways to exercise in Chicago! Walk around the lakefront with friends ( furry friends count!), participate in a workout group or intramurals, or join one of the many fitness class offerings around the 12th district.
Keep in Touch! Connecting with friends and family can help to provide a support system during stressful times. Meeting for coffee, a phone call, or even a quick text can help to make you feel part of the world around you.
Take a Break! Sometimes taking a day or afternoon for yourself is needed. Ensuring that your needs are met can help to reduce stress. Spend the afternoon in one of the many different Chicago neighborhoods, get coffee at a local coffee shop, or treat yourself to a nice meal!
Ask for Help. Sometimes asking for help is the best thing to do. No one is a superhero, and seeking professional help is a sign of strength. Life can become overwhelming and stressful but joining a support group or talking to a counselor can help to ease issues and help add some needed relief. Check out Psychology Today to find a provider that works with your needs and insurance.