CHICAGO — A well-known social service agency on the South Side of Chicago is hiring more employees to meet the growing mental health care need in underserved communities.
From youth services to assistance with employment, Ada S. McKinley Community Services helps more than 7,000 people each year.
A huge part of the agency’s DNA is offering mental wellness support, which is now expanding thanks to new state funding.
“Mental health services and linkages to it is a human right,” Maxica Williams said.
Williams said the team at Ada S. McKinley entered her life in 2015 after the trauma of homelessness and bullying took a toll on her then-eight-year-old daughter.
“Her body constricted and she couldn’t do anything and she was sent to Roseland Hospital and from Roseland Hospital, she was triaged into Ada S. McKinley,” Williams said.
Each year, Ada S. McKinley carries out more than 4,000 mental health crisis interventions.
The agency offers a mobile crisis response service where professionals are dispatched to meet a person in crisis within 90 minutes.
“In 90 minutes, we can deflect and keep them from going to jail or being admitted to the ER,” Ada S. McKinley CEO Jamal Malone said.
Malon said the agency’s mental health component is now expanding through the pathways to success program.
It targets young people enrolled for Medicaid and focuses its efforts in Bronzeville, South Shore, Chinatown and Auburn Gresham.
“What pathways is doing is allowing us the opportunity to hire more case management workers so that we can really do some care coordination,” Malone said.
Through the expansion, Malone said the agency hopes to hire 30 new employees immediately and even more over the next year.
It’s good news for Williams, who is pleased with her daughter’s progress and hopes other families will consider looking into mental health therapy.
“It’s important to take care of our mental health, stop keeping everything bottled up in,” Williams said. “You can’t get better and healthy if you don’t seek the help that you need.”