Mile Square award fills ‘significant need’ for mental health care in Chicago

Mile Square Health Center-exterior

Mile Square Health Center will expand behavioral health services at its main location with a $250,000 award funded through the Affordable Care Act.

Mile Square is one of 221 federally qualified health centers to receive the award.

“There is a significant need for more mental health services in the city of Chicago, especially in communities like the ones we serve that have high rates of poverty, crime and unemployment,” said Robert Winn, associate vice president for community based practice at UI Health.

“This funding will help us diagnose and treat more patients with mental and behavioral health issues in a coordinated, efficient way, because we will be integrating medical and behavioral health care under one roof at our main location,” Winn said.

Mile Square will use the funding to add full- and part-time psychiatric staff for a new adult-focused integrated behavioral health program at its 1220 S. Wood St. site.

The new hires will include a full-time substance abuse and addiction counselor and a full-time behavioral health navigator. The navigator will connect patients with resources and social services in the community.

The goal is to screen all adult patients for mental health issues such as depression and substance abuse during their primary care visits. Treatment for conditions such as mild depression or anxiety can begin with the primary care physician. Patients found to have more significant mental health needs will be referred to on-site specialists.

“The difficulty in traditional models is that patients who are found to have mental health issues are often referred to another location or health system to get treatment,” said Kameron Matthews, Mile Square’s chief medical officer.

“Now that we’ll have psychiatric care providers on staff at Mile Square, patients who screen positive for mental health disorders can walk right across the hall to talk to someone who can provide the specialized treatment they need.

“When a patient’s doctors are all located in one place, and they are coordinating their care for that patient through regular communication, the patient is more likely to keep appointments, adhere to medications and get better. That’s the whole idea behind having a medical home, which is what we want Mile Square to be for our patients,” Matthews said.

Mile Square also provides integrated mental health services at several other locations: three community clinics managed by the College of Nursing and at Mile Square Englewood through a partnership with Metropolitan Family Services funded by the Illinois Children’s Health Care Foundation.

Mile Square has 12 locations with primary and specialty care clinics in the Near West Side, South Shore, Back of the Yards, Englewood and Cicero areas and four school-based health centers associated with the School of Public Health, as well as the clinics managed by the College of Nursing.


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