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University News | 04.24.19

Providing Mental Health Care for the Formerly Incarcerated

The Healthy Communities Foundation recently awarded a $25,000 grant to Adler Community Health Services (ACHS). This grant is intended to help subsidize the cost of ACHS mental health services to clients of St. Leonard’s Ministries. The Chicago-based program provides comprehensive residential, case management, and employment services for those released from prison to provide them with financial and social support as they rebuild their lives.

ACHS is a community-embedded service model whereby a multidisciplinary team of master’s- and doctoral-level students, supervised by licensed clinicians, provide counseling services in communities most in need of mental health care.

The St. Leonard’s Ministries campus provides interim and permanent supportive housing for about 75 men and women at any given time. Adler University student clinicians are on-site providing therapeutic services three days a week. The students conduct individual psychological assessments, weekly one-on-one therapy sessions, and trauma-informed group talking circles.</p>

“Criminal justice-based group therapy can help you analyze situations and come up with alternative responses to those that you might have been engaged in in the past,” said Erwin Mayer, Executive Director of St. Leonard’s Ministries.

The clinicians also work with St. Leonard’s Ministries’ case managers and program directors to help assess patients’ needs and connect them with supportive services.

Adler student practitioners have been working with St. Leonard’s Ministries clients for nearly 20 years. “Most of our clients reflect the general prison population, comprised primarily of individuals who are African American or Latino and Latina,” said Mayer. “Understanding the South and West Side communities from which our men and women come and the poverty and types of traumas that are experienced by some of these individuals provides insight for our clinicians.”

The Healthy Communities Foundation was created from the sale of MacNeal Hospital in Berwyn, Illinois. Its grant to ACHS is part the foundation’s first funding cycle after their launch of a new strategic plan promoting local health equity.

The grant to ACHS “is very entwined with our core values of being community embedded and being community led, using a health-equity framework for those who historically don’t have access to healthcare,” said Healthy Communities Program Officer Tina Ramirez Moon. “Many of the men and women who come here attribute their success and understanding of their reactions to certain situations after spending time with Adler clinicians.”

The Healthy Communities grant will provide many St. Leonard’s Ministries clients with their first access to counseling care—and a new perspective.

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