Chicago's Southwest Side

Mental Health in the Chicago Context

Comparing availability of clinicians within areas that have distinct economic profiles allows us to assess how affluence influences service accessibility. 

Within the predominantly high economic hardship community areas on Chicago’s southwest side, availability of mental health services is limited in comparison to more affluent neighborhoods in the Chicagoland area (see adjacent map). Although service availability is limited on the southwest side, service providers within these community areas have observed a high demand for mental health services among community residents. Recognizing this gap between service availability and service need, the Collaborative for Community Wellness, a coalition of local organizations and residents on Chicago’s southwest side, undertook a systematic assessment of mental health needs and access barriers among adult residents of 10 southwest side community areas. 

"Maria and her family confront a multiplicity of issues stemming from social systems (economic, political, legal, and cultural) that cause harm and stop individuals from reaching their full potential. While acknowledging that she has suffered a lot (the traumas of immigration, acculturation, domestic abuse, and loss of a child), Maria says she worries most about the well-being of her children and their futures."

Structural Violence

Experiences of poverty, unemployment/underemployment, challenges with housing, attending under-resourced schools, limited social service infrastructure, and ease of access to firearms, among other factors, all have a combined effect on the mental health of individuals and the well-being of families living in these marginalized communities. Structural violence perpetuates these conditions by limiting people's access to the resources needed to improved their lived reality.