UIC resource directory helps link community to health, service groups

UIC Integrated PASEOA team of UIC researchers is making it easier for students and community members to connect with health and social service organizations throughout Chicago — especially those that are accessible to LGBTQ young adults.

UIC Integrated PASEO, a project funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration, has created a Resource Link Directory that includes health screening facilities, life-skills training, supportive housing centers and more.

The project, which started in 2016 in the School of Public Health, aims to expand substance abuse, mental health, viral hepatitis and HIV prevention and care services for Latino/Hispanic and African American young adults between 18 and 24 who attend UIC or live in the community. Partners include the Puerto Rican Cultural Center and Jane Addams College of Social Work’s Midwest Latino Health Research, Training and Policy Center.

Researchers are focusing on LGBTQ students and young adult community members, but the program is open to all.

The campus-community partnership pools resources and initiates collaboration and conversations to tailor services to individuals more effectively, said Rohan Jeremiah, principal investigator for the project.

“We were an ideal candidate for this mechanism because we’re a minority-serving institution,” said Jeremiah, assistant professor of community health services.

“Research strongly suggested that nobody fits into one category in terms of labels. The fact we are embedding ourselves across all of these different resources enables us to have students come in and identify in multiple ways to access our services, but also lets them know what our partners are doing to help.”

A key feature of the project is a community advisory board that includes administrators, students and community partners. Bringing these groups together enables the team to leverage existing resources and research on campus, and provides a way for groups to network and co-sponsor events.

“This also helps us capitalize on all the resources we have in the city,” said Jeremiah.

“We’re very cognizant that lots of students live off campus. They live in communities that we’re partnering with that are more conducive to those students.”