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Evanston, Illinois is located in Cook County, just north of the Chicago area. With a population of 75,4301 residents, the city offers small-town living with all the amenities of a major metropolitan area. One of the main attractions of the city is Northwestern University, which draws thousands of students and academics. It is the largest employer in the city. The city is also known for its many famous entertainers and artists, including the late filmmaker, John Hughes, who chose to film several of his iconic 1980s films in Evanston, including Home Alone and Sixteen Candles.
Mental Health Statistics
The Illinois Department of Health reported that 3.3% of Cook County area residents had poor mental health in 20113. According to the Department of Public Health, 585 county residents committed suicide between 2005 and 20072. In 2007, 449 Evanston residents received treatment for substance abuse and Cook County residents received over 52% of all services provided by the Alcohol Abuse Task Force for the top ten counties in Illinois4.
Mental Health Programs in Evanston
The Illinois Department of Human Services Mental Health Division oversees all mental health care for residents of Evanston and surrounding areas. The division comprises many departments that target specific needs and segments of the population. It focuses on helping residents receive the care they need so that they can succeed in every area of their lives through education, support, vocational counseling and training, assessment, and counseling services.
Aside from traditional services, the division also developed Project Connect. This comprehensive care system helps children with serious emotional disturbances and provides support, education, advocacy, and respite care for their families. By making community care available, the division hopes that children with mental health care needs can receive adequate care within their families and communities, without having to rely on inpatient treatment or hospitalization. Project Connect is available to children ranging in age from birth through 21 and is especially critical for transition-aged youth, young people with special educational requirements, and children who are in the process of a developmental or life transition. Screening and assessment occur at various points to ensure all children who require services are being helped in the most effective manner possible. Project Connect is also focused on reducing the stigma surrounding mental health and is actively involved in culturally sensitive social media marketing in order to bring the message of mental well-being to all residents5.
NOLA also offers a free Cope Crisis Line via 211. This hotline is staffed by counselors trained to provide guidance regarding community services and counseling to those in need. The NOLA for Life Playbook is a new campaign designed to promote life in the midst of a violent environment. With a focus on preventing youth violence, this innovative program targets at-risk youth and provides education, awareness, and empowerment5.