More Access to Mental Health Services for Families Needed

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Health

There are 916,880 children under the age of five in Illinois, and only five percent are accessing publicly funded mental health services, according to Erikson Institute’s Illinois Risk and Reach Report.  Mental health has become paramount in light of the issues connected to the pandemic, ongoing and systemic racism, exposure to violence and recent mass shootings. Erikson Institute raises awareness about mental health by providing science and research on how trauma can impact children and families’ physical, emotional, and mental well-being. A child’s health and development are intrinsically linked to their genetic makeup, environment, access to early care programs and interventions, and their parents’ or caregivers’ mental and physical health.  

The Illinois Risk and Reach Report, released in 2021, continues to provide a comprehensive analysis of risk factors that undermine optimal child development and compares them to the reach of publicly funded programs and services that support early childhood well-being.  The report shows that 62 of the 102 counties in Illinois have low to low-moderate percentages of children accessing mental health services. These data are one of 15 risk factors young children and their families experience. The data offer a pre-pandemic perspective of how children are developing and what issues need to be prioritized to set them up for success. The report provides data disaggregated by race and ethnicity at the state level to better understand disparities and inform solutions.  To read the full report and view the interactive map, visit

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