The Chicago Mental Health Movement released a report Thursday outlining the long-term costs of Mayor Emanuel's proposed cuts and condemning the closure of six mental health clinics outlined in his 2012 budget.
"While the city presents these reductions as a 'consolidation' of services, an analysis of the [Chicago Department of Public Health] budget, an assessment of need in Chicago and first-hand accounts from patients make clear the Emanuel closures are risky, ill-conceived, and riddled with hidden costs," wrote the report's author, Jo Patton.
The Mental Health Movement released the results of their study at a rally in front of Grace Episcopal Church Thursday, where Chicagoans reliant on the city's mental health services shared their stories.
"For me, my therapist is a matter of life or death, because I have no one," said Helen Morley, a patient at the Beverly Morgan Park Mental Health Clinic slated for closure. " I am lucky to have my therapist.
Emanuel's budget calls for the city's 12 mental health clinics to be consolidated into six, which would displace 2,549 patients, according to the Mental Health Movement report. The report also argues that the closures would transfer at least 1,100 Medicaid patients to private providers, "effectively giving away federal reimbursement for these services."
The closures will also disproportionately affect minority patients. Facilities are slated for closure in Auburn Gresham, Back of the Yards, Beverly Morgan Park, Woodlawn and North Rogers Park, where 61 percent of patients are African-American and 17 percent are Latino, according to the report.
"My therapist is like part of my family," said Florencia Cano, a patient at Northwest Mental Health Clinic. "It's important for me that this clinic does not close. This is my neighborhood. Sending people to other neighborhoods is going to be very difficult."