Metropolitan Family Services – Southwest Center’s Combative Mental Health Programs

“You know, my granddad came through here a long time ago,” says Yvonne Orr, Chief Professional Officer of South-Southwest Suburban United Way, to the Metropolitan Family Services staff. Jean Xoubi, Program Director of Metropolitan Family Services in Palos Hills, had just finished explaining the eight mental health programs they provide–one of which is the Veterans, Individual and Family Program (VIP). This particular program offers outpatient counseling, psychiatric and support services to veterans and their families to help manage symptoms, stress and challenges related to military service. The program emphasizes capacity for change, while addressing key challenges, special needs and adjustment issues experienced by veterans. “I was little and MFS was celebrating its 5th year. Your agency was doing things differently then and going door-to-door like vacuum cleaner salespeople,” Orr chuckles. “It’s a strong childhood memory because I wasn’t supposed to open the door to strangers. I opened the door because my granddad happened to be ranting and my grandma was trying to calm him down… but I didn’t get in trouble for it that day”. A young Orr did not get in trouble because she opened the door to a friend, a neighbor, a partner–an agency that has amplified the voices of families and communities for 153 years and counting. That day, Orr’s grandfather sat down with MFS and eventually accepted mental health services for veterans: “we never had to endure his rants due to his treatment success”, Orr reminisced. Metropolitan Family Services has come a long way since door-to-door service pitches, now providing crisis, at-home, inpatient and outpatient psychiatric programs. With licensed clinical professional counselors on staff, like Michelle Churchey-Mims, Metropolitan Family Services is able to help un- and under-insured adults and families deal with serious mental illness, reduce conflicts, problem solve, build life skills and support their recovery. While they are experiencing increases in poverty and underperforming schools, trying to accommodate these mental health needs is increasingly difficult. To combat this, Mims explains, they are working on getting into schools to provide crisis intervention services for children (a program called SASS). As a proud partner, United Way would like to thank Metropolitan Family Services for taking time away from their work to help us understand more about their services and steps towards a greater community. Also, a special thanks to Yvonne Orr for sharing her story. With 43,000 families and individuals impacted by MFS so far, United Way of Metropolitan Chicago looks forward to experiencing many more success stories. Post submitted on behalf of Kristen Johnson, Fundraising Intern at South-Southwest Suburban United Way.

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