From March 18th to 22nd, an IMAN delegation visited Washington, D.C. for the National Association of Community Health Centers’ (NACHC) Policy and Issues Forum, which commemorated the 50th anniversary of U.S. Community Health Centers. The Forum engaged leaders in the community health field, hosted discussions on best practices, and, most importantly, was a site of intense advocacy. Health care funding is at a critical stage: If Congress does not act, the Health Center Fund will expire on September 30, 2015, reducing funding up to 70%.
During this four-day trip, we heard IMAN’s community health model being confirmed — that our present health clinic and future health center must always be an integral part of community organizing work. While in D.C., IMAN staff learned from Congressman Danny K. Davis and other long-time activists that the history of community health centers in the United States is steeped in intentional community activism. Dolores Huerta, who famously organized with Cesar Chavez, delivered a passionate speech stating that community organizers should be part of every community health center’s staff. Steadfast in commitment to dignity and justice, we must never lose sight of the fact that health care is a human right and protecting resources that provide these services is critical.
On February 14, IMAN’s Health Clinic partnered with HEART Women & Girls to host an event supporting ‘V-Day’ – the international movement to raise awareness about violence against women and girls. Attendees had a lively discussion about factors that can lead to domestic violence, as well as ways to avoid problematic relationships with abusers. Sarah Hasan of HEART Women & Girls spoke about the importance of creating safe environments that allow people to speak about violence they may be experiencing. As the event ended, those in attendance committed to becoming supporters for survivors of violence in the community.
Continuing the work of bolstering community support, IMAN’s Behavioral Health Program has happily accepted two graduate student interns from the University of Chicago School of Service Administration. Sherylene Heah (‘16) and Hannah Zangwill (‘16) began their internships on January 13th, and will serve for the remainder of the academic year. They each have previous experience at the TCA Health Inc. clinic on Chicago’s South Side. Sherylene, a native of Malaysia, has previous medical social work experience in Singapore and is interested in chronic disease management. Hannah, originally from Georgia, has an interest in working with the aged. Sherylene and Hannah will spend two days a week at the Health Clinic, where they’ll be familiarized with behavioral health issues, receive clinical training, case management and cultural competency skills.
Last week, the IMAN Health Clinic restarted its training relationship with the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration (SSA). After several exchanges and a brief field placement coordinator interview, SSA reactivated the IMAN Health Clinic’s status as a field placement site. The Clinic’s Behavioral Health program previously served as a field placement site for social work students interested in clinical work, as well as organizing and advocacy issues. The Behavioral Health program will take up to two Master’s level social work students for the 2015-2016 academic year and engage them in clinical work and advocacy.
Students in the SSA program will be able to read a description of IMAN’s Behavioral Health program and apply to be an intern in the Health Clinic beginning in January/February 2015. Following a similar process, the Behavioral Health program will also accept up to two graduate student trainees in clinical psychology from Chicago area universities. The Health Clinic is excited to resume training students for behavioral health, as we continue to address the overwhelming need for behavioral and mental health services in our communities.
If you’ve never heard the saying that health is not just the absence of an illness, then we welcome you to the world of behavioral and mental health. Behavioral health is about addressing mental health needs which range from severe mental illness to supporting people to grow in their own lives.
April, 2014 marked two years since six community mental health centers closed in the City of Chicago. These community clinics served as vital resources for maintaining the stability of the under or uninsured who needed assistance with mental health. You can check out what’s being said about the community mental health clinics closures here.
Throughout all of this, the IMAN Health Clinic remains committed to the health and wellness of all, and seeks to strengthen its behavioral health capacity. The Clinic has staffed a clinical psychologist, Michelle Anderson, PhD, to offer direct services and expand the program. Dr. Anderson has an extensive background in community mental health needs. She has worked with youth (age 10 and older), as well as adults and families in different locations.
The behavioral and mental program at IMAN’s Health Clinic offers services including individual therapy, career and life sessions, marital/couples sessions and family sessions for families with children ages 10 and older. The program is also seeking to collaborate with other organizations in the area to address issues related to violence and safety. The behavioral health program will provide group events to give the community the opportunity to learn new ways to reduce stress and increase positive emotions. Eventually the behavioral health program will expand to include more counselors and professionals seeking specialized training in community mental health. Behavioral health service hours at the Clinic are currently: Tues and Wed from 9:30-4 and Thurs from 1-4.
The behavioral health program at the IMAN Health Clinic is supported by the Chicago Community Trust.