Since 2016, the CCW has been spearheading community-based participatory research initiatives. The first of these research initiatives was a mental health needs assessment across ten southwest community areas, in which we surveyed 2,859 community residents to learn more about their mental health needs and barriers that they encountered in accessing mental health services. Data from this needs assessment indicated that despite an overwhelming demand for mental health services, barriers including cost, insurance status, and lack of services in close proximity were the primary factors that impeded community residents from accessing professional support. These findings have been critical in informing our subsequent efforts to advocate for increased investment in public mental health services. Furthermore, this needs assessment highlighted the necessity of participatory research efforts that leverage community expertise throughout all phases of the research process. It is only through such participatory efforts that we can ensure that recommendations for facilitating mental health service access are aligned with and responsive to the context-specific needs of Chicago’s economically marginalized communities. Since conducting this initial mental health needs assessment, the CCW has continued to engage in methodologically rigorous participatory research initiatives that seek to document the voices and experiences of community members. Our advocacy campaigns and policy recommendations are directly informed by these data.
The CCW is currently undertaking several research initiatives to collect quantitative and qualitative data on community members’ experiences accessing mental health services within the city of Chicago.