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An Overview of Mental Health in Oak Lawn, Illinois
Located southwest of Chicago in Cook County, Illinois, Oak Lawn is a suburban community with a population estimated at 56,087 as of 2017. The downtown area has undergone major redevelopment since 2002, featuring a large, contemporary Metra train station, a multistory parking garage, shopping centers, and modern high-rise buildings. The community also maintains over 300 acres of recreational facilities and parks. At 38 acres, Centennial Park is among the largest, but they range in size all the way down to small corner play lots.
Livability, Demographic Data, and Socioeconomic Profile
In spite of its proximity to the city of Chicago, with its high crime rate, the crime index of Oak Lawn is lower than the nationwide average and has been for more than a decade. Compared to the entire state of Illinois, Oak Lawn’s rate of total crime is 44 percent lower.
Nearly three out of four residents in Oak Lawn, 70.1 percent, identify as white. Approximately one in five, 18.7 percent, identify as Hispanic. African Americans make up 6.8 percent of the population, and Asian Americans make up 2.2 percent.
The median of Oak Lawn is $58,707 per year, higher than the medians for the United States and Cook County, and only slightly lower than the Illinois median of $59,196. Another indicator of wealth is median home value, which in Oak Lawn is $199,741, compared with $186,500 statewide.
Due to its relative prosperity, the cost of living in Oak Lawn is higher than the rest of Illinois by approximately 10 percent. Nevertheless, the poverty rate in Oak Lawn is fairly low, hovering at about 10 percent as opposed to approximately 12 percent for the United States. There is a slight racial discrepancy as African Americans make up 9.1 percent of the population living in poverty while only comprising 6.8 percent of the total population. Otherwise, the percentage of each ethnic group living in poverty is roughly proportionate to its share of the population at large. When broken down by age and gender, the largest demographic living in poverty is 25- to 34-year-old females.
Education levels in Oak Lawn are roughly commensurate with those in the United States as a whole. There are slightly more people in Oak Lawn with at least a high school diploma than at the national level: 90.4 percent and 87.3 percent, respectively. However, the rate of people in Oak Lawn with a bachelor’s degree or better, 28.7 percent, is lower than the national rate of 30.9 percent.
Factors Affecting Mental Health in Oak Lawn
A number of factors can play a role in mental health. For example, physical health and mental health often go hand in hand, such that an increase or decrease in one can precipitate a parallel trend in the other. Cook County as a whole sees a high rate of HIV and chlamydia diagnoses, but data specific to Oak Lawn is not available.
These other factors also have the potential to negatively affect mental health:
- Substance Abuse: Illinois is a state that has been hit hard by the opioid epidemic, with 15.3 deaths per 100,000 people resulting from opioid overdose in 2016. At the county level, the prevalence of excessive drinking in Cook County was high at 22.1 percent in 2017.
- Divorce: Worth Township, a division of Cook County where Oak Lawn is located, has a moderately high divorce rate of 73 percent.
Mental Health Resources in Oak Lawn
Cook County features a modest ratio of residents to mental health providers at about 493 to one. This works out to 203 mental health providers for every 100,000 people. City-level statistics for Oak Lawn proper were not available.
There are several facilities in Oak Lawn providing mental health treatment. Advocate Christ Medical Center is the primary hospital in the area. Its behavioral health program primarily focuses on intensive, short-term treatment for substance abuse and acute psychiatric symptoms.
The Center for Psychological Services provides evaluation and counseling for a range of issues, including anxiety, depression, mood disorders, stress-related disorders, substance abuse, etc., utilizing a range of different approaches to treatment.
The Illinois chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Health offers support, outreach, and mentoring programs for individuals living with mental illness.