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911 Behavioral Health Call Rates Across Chicago’s Wards: Understanding Call Rates in the Context of Disinvestment in Public Mental Health Services

Using publicly available data through The City of Chicago’s Office of the Inspector General, we plotted 911 behavioral health call rates per 100,000 residents between January 1, 2019 and February 8, 2022. The rates are for the entire period of 3.1 years rather than an annual rate. We displayed the data by Chicago ward, split into 5 groups of 10 wards each, and color-coded the rates: wards with lower rates were shaded lighter blues, while wards with higher rates were shaded darker blues. We created a map that overlaid these data with the locations of open, closed, and privatized public mental health centers in Chicago.

Behavioral Health Calls Rate by Ward with CDPH Overlay 2022-06-24.png

Findings from this mapping project indicate that wards with high rates of behavioral health 911 calls tend to be concentrated in areas of the city where public mental health centers have closed. This is particularly evident on Chicago's South Side, where disinvestment has led to a swath of public mental health center closures. The data clearly reflect that when there is limited access to mental health services, unmet mental health needs can escalate to the point of crisis. Recognizing that confrontations with police in moments of crisis can have catastrophic consequences, it is critical that the City of Chicago re-invest in public mental health services and re-open shuttered public mental health centers so that all Chicagoans can access supportive services before they reach a point of crisis. Please read our brief at the link above for additional details. 

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