KAN-I HELP Network to examine area need for
The Kankakee-Iroquois HELP Information Network (KAN-I HELP) has been awarded a $5000 grant from the Illinois Head Start Association to determine the local feasibility of developing a comprehensive mental health system for children.
The system, which would include prevention, early intervention and treatment for children from birth to age 21, was proposed in the Illinois Children’s Mental Health Act of 2003. A plan for implementation was outlined and submitted to Gov. Rod Blagojevich last fall by the Illinois Children’s Mental Health Partnership.
Nationally, more than 20 percent of children experience a diagnosable mental health problem and it has been estimated that one in 10 children in Illinois suffer from some form of mental illness severe enough to cause impairment. In addition, a study in Chicago found that that nearly 50 percent of inner city adolescents demonstrated signs and symptoms of depression.
Locally, a high number of suicides, particularly among youth in Kankakee and Iroquois counties, led to the establishment of the Project CARE suicide awareness and prevention initiative in 2001.
KAN-I HELP will use funding to host a two-part summit involving individuals and representatives from area organizations on ways to promote optimal social and emotional development in children and youth. Goals include identifying what is currently being done and who is involved; creating action plans to foster increased collaborative efforts; and establishing benchmarks and measures to determine if local efforts are making a positive difference in the lives of area youth. The two-part summit is scheduled for late March/early April 2005.
The KAN-I HELP Information Network uses trained information givers and a variety of media – including an online database – to provide residents of Kankakee and Iroquois counties access to up-to-date information about a variety of health and human services. A community collaboration, KAN-I HELP is operated and maintained by the Pledge for Life Partnership. For more information, call the Partnership at 936-4606.