Rush Woman's Board 2017 Project

The Woman’s Board of Rush University Medical Center
“Improving Mental Health in Our Community”
Rush’s School-Based Mental Health Program

The Woman’s Board has committed to fund Rush’s School-Based Mental Health Program, an initiative for at-risk youth served by Rush’s three School-Based Health Centers (SBHCs). The program will build a community-based mental health screening and treatment network to support children, families, front line community members and first responders.

The SBHCs at Orr High School, Crane Medical Preparatory High School and Simpson Academy for Young Women act as a safety net by filling gaps in preventive and primary health care for students, parents and the surrounding community. At the clinics, Rush staff members see more than 1,400 youth each year in more than 4,000 visits and provide comprehensive primary care, health education and mental health screenings.

The Need

The communities immediately surrounding Rush University Medical Center face significant barriers in accessing health care. A recent community health assessment concluded that families and children in Rush’s west side communities suffer from exceptionally high rates of trauma-related disorders, as well as depression, anxiety, unemployment, poverty and substance abuse. Since 2010, Rush teams at the SBHCs have identified an unprecedented 400% increase in mental health issues requiring treatment among the youth in these communities.

The Objective

The goal of the School-Based Mental Health Program is to develop mental health screening and treatments that recognize and respond to the impact of traumatic stress on children, caregivers and service providers. The program will improve mental health treatment options for the youth served by Rush’s SBHCs and contribute to improving overall school performance.

The Woman’s Board’s support will allow the expansion of Rush’s comprehensive model of wellness and care to include community-based mental health services and screenings critical for addressing post-traumatic stress, trauma, anxiety, depression, substance abuse and powerlessness that are often present in children from neighborhoods with high rates of poverty, violence and crime.

Funds raised by the Woman’s Board will help to:

• Accelerate Rush’s ability to serve the mental health needs of children and families in our community, through onsite screenings for adverse childhood events (e.g. abuse) and traumatic stress at affiliated schools

• Facilitate increased staffing needs including two social workers, a nursing care coordinator, a psychiatric nurse practitioner, a child psychologist and a child psychiatrist

• Develop a stepped approach to diagnosis, treatment and referrals for at-risk children identified through screening, including on-site treatment support

• Launch a telemedicine program to link students with Rush mental health professionals

• Train front line community-based individuals with the skills needed to provide lay support to youth and make referrals to SBHC or to child psychologists

• Conduct an annual comprehensive evaluation and assessment of mental health services with the Rush-DePaul Center for Community Health Equity