DuPage nets $1.5M federal mental health grant
Updated: December 9, 2012 6:06AM
WHEATON — A recent infusion of federal dollars is expected to help boost the longevity of DuPage County residents who struggle with mental illness.
Maureen McHugh, director of the DuPage County Health Department, called the four-year, $1.5 million grant “huge” in its ability to help the public health agencies assist people with low incomes in a new way. The federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration money will be used to support the integrated care needed to improve the physical health of people with serious mental health challenges and addictions.
Studies have found that people with serious mental illness have life expectancies that average 25 years less than the general population, Health Department officials said. Such individuals often succumb to chronic illnesses such as hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease that are preventable and can be treated.
The prevalence of mental health woes, especially depression, has been linked in other research to economic hardship in the U.S., and more recently in Europe. Some studies have placed the incidence of mental illness in the U.S. at 25 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Researchers have estimated that 50 percent of all American adults will experience mental illness at least once during their lifetimes, the CDC has reported.
The DuPage County Health Department, which is a licensed behavioral health services provider, will team up with nonprofit VNA Health Care, a community–based medical services provider based in Aurora. The partnership will serve to integrate behavioral health and primary care for adults with serious mental illness, implementing a pilot project, MYCARE, to address the issues that affect those clients.