Patients Occupy Mental Health Clinic To Prevent Closure

Members of Occupy Wall Street are reporting that dozens of people who use Chicago’s mental health clinics along with other advocates have barricaded themselves into the Woodlawn Clinic at 6337 S. Woodlawn, one of 6 clinics facing closure in the city.

The patients, family members, and mental health advocates say they intend to remain there until Mayor Rahm Emanuel agrees to keep all of Chicago’s public clinics open, fully funded and fully staffed.

According to the Chicago Tribune, some 5,100 patients receive services through the city’s network of mental health clinics. About 3,000 are uninsured or underinsured, and another 2,100 carry Medicaid, Medicare or private insurance. The plan to close the clinics was made toward the end of 2011, and will save taxpayers about $3 million, according to the Chicago Department of Public Health.

The City says it will refer the insured clients to nonprofit community mental health providers, but patients and their advocates have their doubts. Not to mention that thousands without insurance will be left to fend for themselves.

The Mental Health Movement, which put out a report and a video undermining the Chicago Department of Public Health’s claim that all patients will continue to receive care, has been calling for hearings on the clinic closures since October. Despite repeated promises and a resolution calling for hearings, the Emanuel Administration has prevented any hearings from taking place in order to avoid public scrutiny of the plan, which has come under fire even from Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart.

“We have tried everything we could to be heard. We visited Mayor Emanuel when he was a candidate. We delivered him over 4,000 letters. We have talked to almost all 50 Alderman. We have held press conferences, rallies and even sat-in for 10 hours on the 5th floor of City Hall. We are the ones who know the disaster these clinic closures will mean for our communities and our city but Mayor Emanuel has been unwilling to listen to us, so we are taking drastic measures to avoid a tragedy and defend our human rights,” says N’Dana Carter, who goes to one of the city clinics and is a spokesperson for the Mental Health Movement.

The people barricaded in the clinic have enough food and supplies to stay for months and are threatening to do so unless Mayor Emanuel meets the following five demands:

  • Keep all 12 city mental health clinics public, open, fully funded and fully staffed
  • Stop plans to privatize Chicago’s 7 neighborhood health centers
  • Hire more doctors, therapists, nurses, social workers and other clinic staff
  • Reinstate the drug assistance program
  • Expand the public mental health safety net to cover unmet community needs

Those in Chicago who wish to support the patients and join them in occupying the clinic are invited to bring a tent to 6337 S Woodlawn Avenue. For updates, follow @STOPChicago on Twitter, or search the hashtag #SaveOurClinics.

Related Reading:

What Democracy Looks Like: Inside Occupy Congress

Mental Illness: The World’s Most Neglected Health Problem?

Police Arrest Nurse Volunteers At Occupy Chicago

Image via Thinkstock


Leanne B.
Leanne B5 years ago

We need more mental health care not less.

Rin S.
Rin S5 years ago

I really hope they succeed. Good luck!

Carole Cherne
Carole Cherne5 years ago

This is another example of the utter lack of mental health care in this country. Shameful.

Vicky Pitchford
Vicky P5 years ago

good luck to them

Martha Eberle
Martha Eberle5 years ago

Good for them. Sometimes, people have to use peaceful resistance to make their point.

Lynda Harrison
Lynda Harrison5 years ago

Yet another example of why the current disgraceful system of healthcare needs drastic change!

Past Member
Past Member 5 years ago

People that are in our current administration are the reason that people like us need to be put on medication in the first place!

Rose Becke5 years ago

We need more not less

Linda T.
Linda T5 years ago

Mental Health cuts during financial rough spots is always the first to go. It's unfortunate because suicide rates always go up when the economy goes down. Thank you Occupy movement for shinning a light on this injustice.

Ronald Ellsworth
Ronald E5 years ago

Yea, the Reprehenslicans need a place to call home!