28 Oct Erie Neighborhood House Expanding Access Where It’s Needed MostShare This Article
Erie Neighborhood House has played an essential role in advancing health equity in our region. Their approach to providing affordable, high-quality, and culturally affirming services and treating the “whole person” in Little Village has now expanded to Berwyn, the heart of our region.
As we approach the two-year mark of the COVID pandemic and continue to face a challenging road towards recovery, Erie Neighborhood House’s presence in west suburban Cook County, a rapidly changing area of our region, is very much needed and valued. As part of our Reimagine Health series, read about Erie House’s decision to open a site in Berwyn and what reimagining mental health and wellness means to them during this moment.
Written by Erie House’s Caitlin Sheehan and Rosa Elena Totochenko
HOW ERIE HOUSE CHOSE BERWYN FOR THEIR NEW OFFICE
Erie House chose Berwyn through a combination of learnings from previous programming, good relationships with the City of Berwyn, and national data collected on COVID-19. According to early summer data from the Latino Policy Forum, the City of Berwyn was one of the top 15 COVID-19 impacted areas and needs many vital services and support from community organizations like Erie House.
Our Health and Leadership Program cultivated relationships in Berwyn and increased access to services such as “Know Your Rights”, public benefits, and rental assistance to its residents. The Mayor of the City of Berwyn and his team recognized this work and wanted to offer a permanent home to Erie House to ensure their constituents have the support they need to thrive.
HOW THE NEW LOCATION ADDRESSES COVID-19 RECOVERY FOR RESIDENTS
Erie House has leveraged its established relationships within key communities, such as public schools and local churches, and has engaged in outreach with the community throughout the City of Berwyn.
Currently, we are offering public benefit workshops and application assistance, implementing immigrant rights campaigns and health-related workshops, conducting eviction prevention outreach, and providing rental assistance services at our Berwyn Office. With a permanent office location, Erie House is now exploring various other service opportunities (workforce development, mental health support, ESL classes) to fill the gap between community needs and available resources.
The holistic services provided by Erie House, complete with internal referrals across programs to ensure all individual and family needs are addressed, contribute to our goal of helping our community recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and economic instability.
WHAT “REIMAGINING MENTAL HEALTH & WELLNESS” MEAN TO ERIE HOUSE
The rapidly changing landscape brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, combined with a severe dearth of mental health resources among low-income Latinx immigrant communities, has led us to increase mental health services across an individual’s lifespan. Our goal is to ultimately increase resilience in individuals and families, reducing community violence and improving outcomes.
“…There are not enough accessible, bilingual and free mental health resources such as ours that offer evidence-based therapeutic support.”
Based on our long waitlists for therapy services through our Proyecto Cuidate Department at our Little Village site and partnerships in surrounding neighborhoods and communities, there are not enough accessible, bilingual, and free mental health resources such as ours that offer evidence-based therapeutic support.
Erie House’s approach to mental health and wellness goes far beyond clinical interventions, though they are crucial for our services. Erie House places no limit on the number of sessions a given client can receive, as all interventions focus on the client’s goals throughout sessions. Across various sites, Erie House also provides holistic wellness services, including early childhood education at a reduced sliding scale, Pathways to Success, and legal services for family and immigration law, that address the core difficulties a person is experiencing that may impact their wellbeing.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR ERIE HOUSE
We seek to reimagine mental health and wellness by:
- Continuing to partner with agencies such as through the Collaborative for Community Wellness to advocate for the well-being of the most vulnerable underserved communities and address ways to reduce barriers to access critical needs, such as mental health services.
- Continuing to provide front-line staff and clinicians opportunities for continued professional development
- Enhancing clinical infrastructure to ensure that clinicians have the proper supervision to reduce burnout
- Encouraging participation in opportunities outside of direct work that align with the agency’s mission and vision.
- Assessing current systems from referrals to intake, research and conduct needs assessments as needed, find better ways to get community input to shape program development.
- Increasing free and accessible mental health services, without time constraints, in underserved areas across sectors, including public and community-based agencies. This approach addresses the various traumas our communities navigate and ensures we create a safety net for those with high mental health needs.
- Creating new models for non-police involvement to address mental health crises.
Mental health care is an invaluable resource that we believe all individuals and families should have the ability to access. Still, it can be insufficient without the surrounding services helping address the sources of most profound distress.
Caitlin Sheehan, Senior Grant Writer and Rosa Elena Totochenko, Proyecto Cuidate Director from Erie Neighborhood House