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Lake County gets $4.5M mental health grant

Updated: March 31, 2013 2:11AM

The state has awarded a five-year grant of $4.5 million to the Lake County Health Department /Community Health Center to transition individuals living in Illinois mental health institutions into independent living arrangements.

Among the first steps the Health Department has taken to launch the program is the coordination of a consumer-run drop-in center at 3002 Grand Ave., Waukegan, designed to provide a nonclinical environment for individuals to socialize, receive support from their peers and access computers.

The supervised building space includes a computer room, a café and a seating area with a big-screen television. Down the hall are offices for a team of mental health professionals who supervise the program.

Funding for the program is the result of a lawsuit brought against the state of Illinois. The settlement, called Williams Consent Decree, encourages qualifying individuals to be moved out of state-funded facilities where a majority of patients have mental illness. These individuals are moving into communities to live independently with help from case managers and a team of mental health professionals. The state chose programs in Lake, Cook, Kankakee and Peoria counties to act on the lawsuit settlement.

“Those who can live on their own with support should be allowed to do so. We are grateful the state is moving in this direction,” said Dr. Ted Testa, who oversees the Health Department’s Behavioral Health Services programs.

To move out of an institution, an individual must have a mental health illness, be willing and able to move and accept the terms of the program, as well as have approval from his or her guardian. In Lake County, the individuals, called Williams Consent Decree class members, are moving from Lake Park Center Nursing Home and Bayside Terrace Center, both in Waukegan, as well as Abbott House in Highland Park.

To date, 10 individuals have joined the Health Department’s program and another 150 are expected to transition into independent living through the program over the next four years.

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