Mental health: Reaching people where they are

Thanks to a unique partnership with Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, people without adequate health care coverage have been receiving confidential mental health assessments from a licensed clinical psychologist at the Main Library since last fall.

“Rush University Medical Center is recognizing that our library is where people are coming every day,” says the library’s Director of Social Services and Public Safety Robert Simmons. “There is an extreme need for psychiatric support in our community, and together with the hospital we are trying to reach people where they already are.” 

Support through strategic partnerships

One in five adults experiences mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), and the average delay between the onset of symptoms and getting treatment is 11 years. Taking the first steps can be confusing and difficult, especially for those without adequate health coverage and other obstacles.

At the library, Simmons reaches out to library patrons and other organizations that work with vulnerable populations, to schedule the confidential appointments with a Rush psychologist. And through strategic partnerships with seven area mental health organizations, those who receive initial mental health assessments at the library can receive ongoing mental health support afterward. 

“We have people at the library every day in front of us who need these services,” Simmons says. “With this partnership, we can begin to help them here at the library, where they already feel safe and welcome.”

To make an appointment, contact Director of Social Services and Public Safety Robert Simmons at 708.697.6910 or

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

NAMI Metro Suburban improves the lives of individuals, families, and communities affected by mental illness by providing education, support, advocacy through the western suburbs of Cook County. This local chapter often hosts programs at the Main Library. To learn more and find resources, call 708.524.2582 or visit their website.