Community input needed for confronting mental health

West Side Community Triage and Wellness Center hosting forums to share resources, craft new solutions

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter

By Bonni McKeown

The West Side Community Triage and Wellness Center center, located at 4133 W. Madison Ave., has been holding a series of forums this month to help mitigate violence and trauma on the West Side. 

Formed as a strategic partnership between Habilitative Systems, Inc., Bobby E. Wright Comprehensive Mental Health Center, and the Cook County Health and Hospital System, the center places an emphasis on wellness — not just addressing illness. 

During the recent forums, officials with the center gave residents an overview of the many mental health services that are available on the West Side. 

The center itself accepts walk-ins and call-ins 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A staff headed by Joyce Springfield, a licensed clinical supervisor, helps clients assess their needs and refers them to services that include mental health and substance abuse treatment, and job and housing referrals. Case managers follow up with clients and family members. The triage center can also intervene when people are experiencing crisis at home or on the street, and can dispense psychotropic medications.  

During a forum on April 17, Donald Dew, Habilitative's executive director, said that he wants the triage center "be a family support system for the West Side. In case of domestic disturbance, people can call us instead of calling police."  

Dr. Rashad Saafir, Bobby E. Wright's executive director, told those gathered at the forum that he hopes the center is the place that stops the revolving door to Cook County Jail. 

"Jail is the last place people with mental health and substance abuse issues should be," he said. "They need to be in treatment." 

Rebecca Barboza, of the Safety & Justice Challenge Initiative — a campaign supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation that is designed to reduce the country's jail population — said that the initiative has some solutions of its own. 

Those solutions include an automated court reminder text and phone messaging system to remind people of their court dates so they won't be re-arrested and strategies to help police divert people from incarceration, among others. 

Other mental health providers offered information at the April 17 forum. Rush medical system hosts training in mental health first aid and Lurie Children's Hospital is investigating statistics on deaths from drug overdoses. 

Deborah Williams, Habilitative's community outreach coordinator, said that she's accepting anyone's ideas on how the Triage and Wellness Center can help improve mental health on the West Side. 

The forums, organizers said, are all designed to guide action on addressing mental health on the West Side. 

"Whatever comes out of here [during the forums] is what's going to happen," said Milton Johnson, Bobby E. Wright's community outreach director.


Love the News?

Become our partner in independent community journalism

Thanks for turning to Austin Weekly News and We love our thousands of digital-only readers. Now though we're asking you to partner up in paying for our reporters and photographers who report this news. It had to happen, right?

On the plus side, we're giving you a simple way, and a better reason, to join in. We're now a non-profit -- Growing Community Media -- so your donation is tax deductible. And signing up for a monthly donation, or making a one-time donation, is fast and easy.

No threats from us. The news will be here. No paywalls or article countdowns. We're counting on an exquisite mix of civic enlightenment and mild shaming. Sort of like public radio.

Claim your bragging rights. Become a digital member.

Donate Now

Reader Comments

No Comments - Add Your Comment

Note: This page requires you to login with Facebook to comment.

Comment Policy

Facebook Connect

Answer Book 2019

To view the full print edition of the Austin Weekly News 2019 Answer Book, please click here.

Quick Links

Sign-up to get the latest news updates for Austin and Garfield Park.

MultimediaContact us
Submit Letter To The Editor
Place a Classified Ad