Illinois PrEPs for new HIV prevention program

The call of “Step up. Get tested.” rang out at a recent World AIDs Day event. Illinois plans to add one-a-day pill prevention as another layer of protection starting in January. 

By Adrienne Hurst

The young saga of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a one-a-day medication that prevents HIV infection, reads much like the old story of the birth control pill.

Though it was approved by the FDA in 2012, PrEP continues to be stigmatic and little-prescribed despite endorsement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization and Human Rights Campaign. The monthly cost of $1,539.90 can also place it out of reach. Early next year, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) plans to change all of that. Continue reading “Illinois PrEPs for new HIV prevention program”

North River Mental Health Center to City of Chicago: Where’s our psychiatrist?

Video by Rachel White | Text by Adrienne Hurst

Patients and advocates of the North River Mental Health Center gathered at the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) Wednesday to urge officials to fill the center’s vacant psychiatrist position. The center has not had a psychiatrist on staff since July 31, leaving patients without crucial medication management, advocates said.

“People are scared, so they’re cutting their medications in half” to make them last longer, said Becky Brasfield of the North River Consumer Council, an organization led by patients of the clinic. “We want answers for how the consumers are supposed to proceed with no medication” and CDPH Commissioner Bechara Choucair’s long-term plan for hiring a psychiatrist at the center. Continue reading “North River Mental Health Center to City of Chicago: Where’s our psychiatrist?”

Cook County voters say yes – mental health care needs more state funding

Cook County Jail
At the Cook County Jail, an estimated 25-30 percent of residents suffer from mental illness. The approval of Tuesday’s ballot may help improve services for people who, without treatment, could end up behind bars. Photo courtesy of the Cook County Jail.

By Adrienne Hurst

Cook County voted the message loud and clear on Tuesday. Funding mental health services should be a priority for state lawmakers.

An advisory referendum to increase funding passed by a resounding 86 percent, according to unofficial election results posted by The Chicago Tribune. The measure garnered support from more than 1 million out of 1.2 million votes.

The challenge now lies in triggering state action from county opinion. Continue reading “Cook County voters say yes – mental health care needs more state funding”

Fright or flight: How fear lights up the brain

By Adrienne Hurst

A walk through a haunted house can leave you feeling like you’ve run a marathon: pumped full of adrenaline, out of breath and, frankly, relieved it’s over. Some of us love to experience these harmlessly scary situations. Others would rather stick to the pumpkin patch. A neuroscience specialist explains why this might be the case.

Several houses remain open Sunday to test your fear factor.

Continue reading “Fright or flight: How fear lights up the brain”

Cook County voters to weigh in on mental health funding

By Adrienne Hurst

Ballot box
Voters at the ballot box Tuesday will voice their opinions on Illinois’ mental health cutbacks. Photo credit: Keith Bacongco / Flickr

Tuesday’s advisory referendum to increase mental health care funding is unfortunately a “well-kept secret,” according to Lora Thomas, director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Illinois. It’s tucked away among 47 others on the Cook County ballot. As part of the general election ballot, Cook County voters will have the chance to tell policymakers whether they think funding should be increased.

Such funding could help restore more mental health clinics and other services. County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and all 17 board commissioners co-sponsored the county referendum. Continue reading “Cook County voters to weigh in on mental health funding”

Free depression screenings target mental wellness

By Adrienne Hurst

Physical exams are a no-brainer. But what if we approached our mental health the way we do our blood pressure, with regular, preventative check-ups? Mental health professionals across Chicago and the U.S. are encouraging people to check their noggins for Mental Health Awareness Week.

mental health depression screening
Mental health experts offered free depression screenings Thursday at the James R. Thompson Center.

Cornerstone Counseling Center of Chicago is offering free wellness screenings for depression this Friday at 1111 N. Wells from 1-6 p.m. The event wraps up extended mental health evaluations for National Depression Screening Day. Mental Health America of Illinois (MHAI) brought the event to Chicago with screenings that started Wednesday. Continue reading “Free depression screenings target mental wellness”

Giant bra sculpture tours Chicago for breast health

Support Bra
Linda Christensen, executive secretary at Advocate Health Care, offers breast cancer screening information to passersby at Union Station Wednesday, Oct. 3. Christensen was diagnosed with breast cancer three years ago and is now a proud survivor.

By Adrienne Hurst

The latest style in support bras is 16 feet tall and the perfect fit for travel. Advocate Health Care commissioned the sculpture sported in downtown Chicago to represent all forms of support for breast cancer patients. Continue reading “Giant bra sculpture tours Chicago for breast health”