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2017 Members Included:

  • Alivio Medical Center

  • Brighton Park Neighborhood Council (BPNC)

  • Enlace Chicago

  • Erie Neighborhood House

  • Esperanza Health Centers

  • Healthcare Alternative Systems (HAS)

  • Heartland Human Care Services, Inc. | A Company of Heartland Alliance

  • HOPE at St. Pius V

  • Mount Sinai Hospital, Under the Rainbow

  • Mujeres Latinas en Acción

  • NAMI Chicago

  • Padres Angeles

  • Project VIDA

  • Saint Anthony Hospital, Community Wellness Program

  • Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP)

  • Taller de José

  • Telpochcalli Community Education Project (Tcep)

  • Universidad Popular

  • Youth Guidance

Roots to Wellness (R2W) is a mental health collaborative that creates spaces for providers, community organizations, and community residents to come together and to coordinate, advocate and provide support that builds on the inherent strengths and existing resources within the community while also addressing the impact that trauma has on the residents of the southwest side of Chicago. R2W sees mental health as emotional wellbeing that can support sustained individual, family and community wellness.


What began as an organic collaboration in 2009 grew into a formal network with a strategic plan and active subcommittees. R2W completed an in-depth mental health needs assessment in 2014 and released a report at the end of that year. This study estimated that 70% of Little Village residents who should have been receiving mental health services were not enrolled in services. They identified a wide variety of reasons for this related to documentation status, lack of services in Spanish, need for childcare, concerns about safety, lack of insurance that covers these services, lack of time and transportation, and, above all, negative stigma related to the use of mental health services. They also found that most residents accessing clinical services were referred by a friend, family member or peer. Between 2014 and 2017, the network actively worked to implement the recommendations that were outlined in the report. The network also developed and implemented a training series for Community Health Workers, or Promotorxs de Salud, who are interested in building their capacity to provide support and referrals for community residents in the area of mental health.


In 2016 and 2017, R2W conducted a larger community mental health assessment. The report published after the completion of the study identified significant mental health needs and major barriers, both structural and attitudinal in nature, to seeking formal mental health services on the southwest side. Cost and lack of insurance posed the greatest barriers to the majority of study participants, as waitlists for local mental health services that are free and available to uninsured and undocumented residents are long. Issues related to stigma also deterred some residents from seeking formal counseling. Overarching recommendations included 1) increasing accessibility of tailored, community-level information about mental health and available services, 2) ensuring that services are culturally relevant and community-based and 3) influencing policy and systems change that increases the funding and resources needed to strengthen comprehensive community mental health systems.


While the network no longer meets regularly, R2W members continue to advocate for increased funding and resources for mental health services; coordinate the work of local mental health providers through constant communication and referrals; educate residents and other providers about mental health; disseminate tailored marketing tools aimed at reducing negative stigma about mental healthcare; and make linkages between clinical services and informal mental health support services.

For more information about R2W, contact or


Download R2W documents:

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