Center assists mental health





by BRIAN NADIG

The Kedzie Center has had more than 8,000 encounters with residents in need of mental health services since it opened in late 2014.

The center, 4141 N. Kedzie Ave., is the first in Chicago to be funded through a property tax that residents approved by a wide margin in binding referendum in 2012. Home owners in the center’s service area pay an additional $16 in taxes a year, based on a $4,000 property tax bill, to fund the center.

The center’s service area includes Sauganash, North Mayfair, Mayfair, Old Irving Park, Irving Park, North Park, Albany Park and North Park. Its approximate boundaries are Devon Avenue, Cicero Avenue, Addison Street and the North Shore Channel and the Chicago River on the east.

A state law allows the collection of property tax revenue for the purposes of expanding services to the mental ill in areas of Chicago following passage of a referendum in that area. The recent approval of a referendum on the West Side will lead to the second community health center under the law, which was passed in response to the closing of several city-operated centers.

"Too often we hear about cuts in mental health services and see the detrimental effects these have on our communities," Kedzie executive director Dr. Angela Sedeno said. "It has been a privilege to work on expanding mental health access in the North River community."

The 2-year-old center has worked with other organizations to increase its client base. "Those with the greatest needs may be unlikely to walk into a clinic for a number of reasons," Sedeno said. "Through outreach and partnering with our community members, we have been able to reach people in places they already frequent and trust."

The center has worked with ministries that assist the homeless and has contacted to the elderly at group living facilities, and it holds "community nights" on topics such as substance abuse, violence prevention, trauma and human trafficking. Services at the center are offered for free to those who do not have insurance.

Many of the center’s clients are experiencing stress over a recent change in their life, such as losing a job or becoming a parent, Sedona said. The center offers a play group in which children can be monitored for developmental issues and adults can receive help with their parenting skills.

The center also is offering a new program for military and veteran families who have a child who is 3 years old or younger. The 10-week program will include discussions on school readiness, the importance of play, changing behaviors in a child and the communication skills of babies and toddlers. The center will hold an open house on the program from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 11.

The center is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays. Services are offered in English and Spanish, but some of the graduate students who work at the center have spoken other languages, according to Sedeno.

More information can be obtained by calling 773-754-0577 or online at www.thekedziecenter.org.

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