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An Overview of Mental Health in Skokie, Illinois
Once known as the “World’s Largest Village,” Skokie is a suburb just north of Chicago. It is located in Illinois’ Cook County and has a population of 64,873 people.
Economically speaking, Skokie is a study in contrasts. The median household income is estimated at $68,015 per year, higher than the medians for Cook County, Illinois, and the United States. However, the per capita income is nearly half that at $36,608. Skokie also has a fairly high poverty rate of 10.8 percent, which is lower than the nationwide rate of 12.3 percent, but not by much.
Over half the residents of Skokie, 53.2 percent, identify as white and more than a quarter, 26.5 percent, identify as Asian. Residents identifying as Hispanic and black represent 10.7 percent and 6.4 percent of the population, respectively.
Mental Health Resources in Skokie
In 2009, the state government of Illinois started cutting mental health service funding. By 2012, $113.7 million in mental health funding had been cut from the budget, precipitating a crisis. As a result, the number of Cook County jail inmates with a mental illness swelled to over half, the number of nights people spent in Illinois homeless shelters increased by one-third, six mental health clinics closed in Chicago alone, and people in psychiatric distress visiting emergency rooms increased by 19 percent.
While the effects of the budget cuts are still being felt, there are hopeful signs. In 2015, recognizing that sending people with mental illness to jail was not healthy for anyone, the sheriff’s office in Cook County launched a pilot program to evaluate people arrested for misdemeanors for mental health issues. If deemed by a mental health expert to have a potential problem, instead of going to jail, they would be sentenced to mandatory counseling and released on their own recognizance.
In Skokie itself, there is approximately one mental health provider for every 492 people in the population. Outpatient mental health providers in Skokie include Rogers Behavioral Health and Turning Point Outpatient Mental Health Center.
Substance Abuse: A Major Mental Health Concern
A study focusing on Chicago and its surrounding cities found that percentages of illicit drug use among persons aged 12 and older were higher in the Chicago Metro Area than the rest of the state of Illinois; 14.8 percent using any illicit drug compared to 13.6 percent statewide. When further broken down by the type of drug, 10.9 percent use marijuana compared to 10 percent statewide. Only 4.2 percent of Chicago area residents in the study use prescription-type pain relievers for nonmedical use, which is comparable to the statewide percentage of 4 percent and actually lower than the national percentage of 4.9 percent.
Alcohol abuse is also of particular concern. The prevalence of excessive drinking in Cook County is moderately high at 22.1 percent, and 26.5 percent of Chicago area residents report binge drinking at least once in the preceding month, quite a bit higher than the percentage across the United States, 23.2 percent.
Other Factors Affecting Mental Health in Skokie
Statistics show that 6.1 percent of Skokie residents aged 18 or older experienced a major depressive episode in the preceding year as of 2012. This was lower than 6.6 percent for the United States but slightly higher than 6 percent for the state of Illinois. A number of factors have the potential to either cause new mental health issues or exacerbate existing ones:
- Physical Health/Risky Behaviors: Cook County has one of the highest rates of HIV diagnoses in the state of Illinois, with 601.9 per 100,000 people in 2017. Both the diagnosis and the disease have the potential to affect mental health in a negative way. Cook County also has a moderately high rate of chlamydia diagnoses, 713.1 per 100,000 people.
- Violent Crime: On the whole, violent crime rates in Cook County are quite high, with 10.7 homicides and 586.7 other violent crimes per 100,000 people per year. Nevertheless, while Skokie residents may be affected by violent crime happening elsewhere in the county, crime rates within its city limits are relatively low in relation to comparable cities, although 2016 did see an increase after a three-year decline.
- Poverty: When broken down by gender and age, the largest demographic living in poverty in Skokie is females aged 35-44.