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Only Mental Health Clinic for Children Opens in Englewood

By Wendell Hutson | May 22, 2014 6:39am
 Dr. LaMorris Perry.
Dr. LaMorris Perry.
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DNAinfo/Wendell Hutson

ENGLEWOOD — The only mental health clinic for children located in Englewood has its grand opening Thursday, part of the Child and Family Wellness program by the nonprofit Metropolitan Family Services.

The open house is from noon-3 p.m. at the Mile Square Health Center, 641 W. 63rd St. The clinic is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The new program would provide integrated primary and mental health services for children and families, according to Michelle Churchey-Mims, director of Metropolitan Family Services.

“This program will provide wraparound family services in community where the need is great,” said Churchey-Mims. “We want a seamless process for parents to have their children’s primary and mental health needs addressed.”

Wendell Hutson chats about the first of its kind facility in Englewood:

Previously a city-run health clinic occupied the building until budget cuts ended primary care in 2012, said Dr. LaMorris Perry, a pediatrician at the health clinic. While the city still owns the building, the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System provides health care.

“I am the center’s only pediatrician and I see about 20 children a day, some who exhibit mental illness,” Perry said. “There are now mental health professionals on site to see them immediately and I do not have to refer them somewhere else.”

In 2012, the city closed six of its 12 mental health clinics due to budget constraints.

When examining children Perry said he looks for mental health signs, too.

“If a child is failing in school, having a lot of behavior problems or cannot seem to follow directions, it could mean that child has some mental illness issues,” he said.

Funding for the new mental health program comes from a $2 million, five-year grant by the nonprofit Illinois Children’s Healthcare Foundation, according to Heather Alderman, the foundation's executive director.

“We are in Englewood because there is a need for these services,” Alderman said. “This is a way to approach mental health in a holistic way.”

One trend Perry said he was noticing with parents who bring their children to the center for primary care was that a lot of them had recently moved to Chicago.

“A lot of parents do not have health insurance when they come here because they recently moved here from other states like Indiana, Wisconsin and Iowa,” Perry said. “ ... While I am examining their children I recognized mental health signs in them, also.”