Mental health and resilience programs for organizations serving Chicago’s south and west side residents are the latest elements of AT&T’s Believe Chicago® initiative, including a special focus on workplace mental health and resilience.
AT&T is collaborating with University of Chicago Medicine, National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) Chicago and The Kennedy Forum Illinois (TKFI) to support important mental health and resilience education, tools and training for leaders of organizations servicing the city’s south and west sides. The work is supported by $325,000 in contributions from AT&T and the AT&T Foundation.
With $200,000 from AT&T, University of Chicago Medicine launched the Workforce Resilience Enhancement Project (WREP), which aims to strengthen work-readiness and development professionals’ understanding of and response to how the cognitive, psychological, emotional, and behavioral effects of trauma can impair an individual’s abilities to develop the skills, attitudes, and habits needed for successful employment.
On June 24, UChicago Medicine is collaborating with NAMI Chicago and TKFI to host a free online conference, “Workplace Resilience in the Aftermath of COVID-19: Facilitating Economic Recovery by Supporting Workplace Mental Health.” The conference is focused on highlighting the support mechanisms and strategies used by industry leaders, mental health professionals, and working people across the city as we collectively work to respond to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Registration for the virtual conference officially opened today. Register for free HERE.
In addition, client-facing tools – for example, a podcast series on topics such as self-regulation and accessing mental health services – will be developed to provide direct support to workforce development clients.
“The widespread traumatic effects of COVID-19 mean that now, more than ever, workforce development professionals must be prepared to attend to the ways that trauma can affect people's abilities to focus on education and training opportunities, muster the self-motivation needed to search for and gain employment, and engage in the self-regulation needed to maintain employment,” said UChicago Medicine SVP Community Health Transformation Brenda Battle. “This funding from AT&T will allow us to broaden the impact of this work, and for that we are extremely grateful.”
“During Mental Health Awareness Month, it’s important to recognize that balancing all the challenges of our daily lives is never easy. It can take a toll. And for many who live on the south and west sides of Chicago, the pandemic has provided additional mental health challenges. That’s why AT&T is working to help."Eileen Mitchell — President, AT&T Illinois and Great Lakes States
“During Mental Health Awareness Month, it’s important to recognize that balancing all the challenges of our daily lives is never easy. It can take a toll. And for many who live on the south and west sides of Chicago, the pandemic has provided additional mental health challenges. That’s why AT&T is working to help,” said AT&T Illinois and Great Lakes States President Eileen Mitchell. “These organizations help people build the skills they need to endure hardship. As part of our Believe Chicago® initiative to help residents in underserved neighborhoods on city’s south and west sides, we’re proud to support the work of University of Chicago Medicine, NAMI Chicago and The Kennedy Forum Illinois. In a difficult time, they serve as beacons of hope.”
NAMI Chicago, a nonprofit that educates, advocates and shares hope and expertise with people on their mental health journey, has utilized $100,000 in funding from AT&T to increase its impact on the west side. The nonprofit has focused on expanding and improving its provider and referral network, making contacts and updates to its resource information for more than 100 west side organizations. Additionally, NAMI Chicago has worked to educate frontline community groups that include faith leaders and first responders, to provide them with mental health literacy, tools and resources to better support those they serve, and better take care of their own wellness.
"AT&T's support of NAMI Chicago through Believe Chicago® helped us build up the reach of our mental wellness work on the city's west side at a critical time, right before the surge in demand for our free helpline, peer support services, and education resources that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic and compounding crises of 2020
and beyond,” said NAMI Chicago CEO Alexa James. “We are grateful that AT&T sees the value of this proactive effort to engage residents across the city – their investment has laid the groundwork for our work in west side neighborhoods for many years to come."
The Kennedy Forum Illinois, which provides information, education, and resources to various audiences related to mental health, substance use, and wellness, is the recipient of a $25,000 grant from the AT&T Foundation. With the AT&T Foundation’s support, TKFI has been able to reach more Chicagoans with its free evidence-based mental health training sessions. On top of the 4,000 community leaders TKFI has trained since 2017, the AT&T Foundation funding has allowed the organization to provide training to 500 additional stakeholders across many of Chicago’s most vulnerable neighborhoods.
“The Kennedy Forum Illinois is grateful to collaborate with AT&T Illinois and the AT&T Foundation to end discrimination and promote understanding of mental health,” said TKFI Executive Director Cheryl Potts. “More than ever, our communities need programs that educate and engage us in addressing trauma. AT&T Illinois recognizes this and is providing leadership through Believe Chicago®.”