Key Findings Across Communities

Quantitative Data (Phase One)

Depression and anxiety are prevalent mental health concerns.


According to quantitative survey data, slightly less than half of survey respondents reported experiencing depression (49%) and over one-third reported experiencing anxiety (36%). Qualitative data from individual interviews and community forums further identified that mental health needs stem from experiences of marginalization and limited access to health and social services.

Issues People Reported by Gender
Issues People Reported by Place of Birth 

There is an overwhelming demand for professional mental health services.


Of all respondents who completed quantitative surveys, 80% reported “yes” or “probably yes” to the question of whether they would seek professional support for their personal problems. These data suggest that it is not a lack of interest that stops community residents from seeking mental health services, but instead that community residents are unable to seek out services due to structural and programmatic barriers.

Respondents' Willingness to Seek Professional Support Reported by Gender
Respondents' Willingness to Seek Professional Support Reported by Place of Birth
Respondents' Willingness to Seek Professional Support if Concern Was Listed or Not

Structural and programmatic barriers, not social barriers, are the primary factors preventing access to mental health services.


Survey respondents overwhelmingly identified structural and programmatic barriers as posing the greatest challenges to mental health service access, as illustrated in the graph below. Qualitative data confirmed these findings.

Barriers to Access Reported by Gender
Barriers to Access Reported by Place of Birth
Qualitative Data (Phase Two)
Community Forums

After the quantitative component of the mental health needs assessment was conducted, findings were presented to community members during eight different community forums. Forums were held in accessible community spaces in Back of the Yards, Brighton Park, West Elsdon, Chicago Lawn, Little Village, and Pilsen. During these forums, community members were asked to provide feedback on the findings and to provide additional details regarding the factors underlying mental health needs and access barriers. Participants were also asked to provide recommendations for decreasing service access barriers and addressing community residents’ mental health needs. There was a total of 190 participants across the eight community forums, and the majority were women. During each forum, members of the research team took detailed field notes on the content of the discussion, and these field notes were then compiled for subsequent analysis. The table below provides summary information of the forums.

Community Stakeholder Individual Interviews

In addition to holding community forums, nine community leaders and stakeholders were invited to take part in a semi-structured individual interview. Interviews were conducted between February and October of 2017. Community stakeholders were purposively selected based on their long-standing relationships with residents in the surveyed community areas, as well as their history of involvement in community initiatives and their understanding of the needs of community residents. Interviewees included four females and five males. Interviews lasted approximately 15 to 20 minutes, and all interviews were conducted in English. Interviews were audio recorded and transcribed using Trint transcription software. The following questions guided the interview:

1) What does mental health mean to your work in the community? How does it connect to other issues?

2) How do you see the barriers to mental health access impacting the work and the community residents you have worked with?

3) What is possible? What are the next steps? What would you like to see happen to increase access to mental health services? 

"...I was working within the southwest side of Chicago with our Spanish speaking adult immigrants and, you know, a lot of what we ended up seeing was a lot of people needed emotional wellness support and that ranged from a lot of different things...also in the type of services that they needed how it’s connected to other issues in the community, is you know, with community violence, with different trauma that folks experience, with poverty, especially all of these issues are interconnected. (I10)

"The biggest problem is that parents need mental health services and they don’t even know it. And they are not receiving it. So now you have young people...get[ting] pushed into the streets, and then they get into gangs. And now you have these kids 'killing each other.' (I9)

"So I think mental health encompasses relationships that are understanding and free flowing and supportive and trusting...I think mental health is around connecting the story and bringing meaning. A person brings meaning to their lives by connecting with the other. And they walk away strengthened. (I6)

"Now expanding the capacity they have to make it into a site that is usable for mental health counseling sessions. But that people also know where it is at in the community, [are] able to access it with a lot less challenges. And of course the key word, free. (I1)