Laura Kuever

Helping with mental health

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Behavioral health refers to the emotions and behaviors that affect a person’s body, mind, spirit and overall well-being. Just like physical healthcare providers, trained behavioral health providers offer specialized services and case management support to identify the root causes of clients’ mental and behavioral conflicts and offer solutions for a more positive path forward.

Last year, Catholic Charities’ Behavioral Health teams served 2,400 adults and children across Lake and Cook counties. Anyone in need of mental health services is eligible to receive our counseling services regardless of their faith, race, ethnicity or economic status.

Our therapists help individuals from age 3 and up, with no upper limit on age. We meet with our clients in a variety of settings, whether in person or online via a secure and confidential telehealth platform. (Online therapy is a popular choice for those who have limited access to transportation, tight work schedules or caretaking obligations.)

In addition, we partner with 27 Catholic and 14 public schools in Chicago to provide behavioral health counseling and other supports to children and staff. We expect to add new partner schools early this year.

Being embedded in school environments helps ensure that children and the adults who care for them get the support they need as soon as possible. This is done in a variety of ways, including: offering individual and group therapy for students; advising principals and staff on crisis response; providing professional development for teachers about trauma-informed practices; and holding workshops for parents.

When we serve minor children, we must get the consent of their parents or guardians before providing any services to children in their care. We also know that it’s virtually impossible to serve a child or adolescent independent of the adults who care for them, so we welcome and encourage regular contact with them. If the parent or guardian also wants individual or family counseling, we can provide those services as well.

This was the case for Liam (not his real name) and his family. At just 6 years old, Liam’s well-being was already bending to the weight of trauma. As a baby, he witnessed extensive physical abuse and domestic violence between his parents. But even after his mother and siblings stopped living with his father, trauma from those experiences remained.

Liam started having trouble controlling his emotions, growing more physically defiant, particularly with his peers at school. He was often pulled from class because of his behavior, and his school attendance suffered.

Knowing his history, counselors at Liam’s school connected him with Catholic Charities therapists. His assigned therapist worked with him individually and provided family therapy to understand his emotions and behavior and develop strategies to support him better at school.

Since beginning therapy, Liam, his family and his support network are seeing new hope take hold, and they are optimistic for future progress. They continue to work with therapists at home and in school to address Liam’s challenges, helping him recover from the trauma he experienced and learn positive ways to process his emotions.

His mother says she feels she better understands Liam’s behaviors and uses the tools and insights she’s gained to help him self-regulate.

Parents don’t have to wait for their child’s school to get help. Anyone in Lake or Cook counties can contact our specialists to learn more about our services, whether for a child, a family member who may be struggling or themselves. We accept commercial, Medicare and Medicaid insurance plans, and fees can be subsidized based on household and income size for uninsured individuals.

You can request an intake appointment by calling 312-655-7725 or emailing [email protected]. Services are offered in English and Spanish Monday through Saturday.

Please note: Catholic Charities does not provide emergency crisis assistance. If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health emergency, call 911 or 988 for immediate help.



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