Mental Health

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, act and also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others and make decisions. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood through adulthood.

Mental health problems manifest in ways that affect your thinking, mood and behavior and shaped by a variety of different factors including:

  • Biological factors (i.e., genes or brain chemistry)
  • Life experiences (i.e., trauma or abuse)
  • Family history of mental health problems

It is important to note that while mental health problems are common, there is evidence-based help available and many people diagnosed with mental health issues get better and even recover completely

Some early warning signs of mental health problems include:

  • Change in appetite (ex: eating too much or too little)
  • Change in sleep pattern (ex: sleeping too much or too little)
  • Having little or no energy
  • Feeling hopeless, worthless or helpless
  • Feeling irritated more than usual
  • Isolating yourself from friends and family 
  • Feeling forgetful, on edge or confused
  • Losing interest in activities that you previously enjoyed 
  • Being unable to perform daily tasks (ex: taking a shower, going to work or school, getting out of bed)


Mental health and wellness:

  • Having a positive mental health allows you to:
    • Cope with the stresses of life
    • Work productively
    • Achieve your full potential
    • Make meaningful contributions to your community
  • You can achieve positive mental health by doing the following:
    • Seeking professional help
    • Connecting with others (this can occur through online forums geared towards people with the same mental health issues)
    • Being physically active
      • Research has shown that exercise has the ability to reduce the symptoms associated with many mental health illnesses including depression
    • Getting enough sleep
      • Research has shown that one of the negative side effects of not getting enough sleep is the development of mental health issues like anxiety and depression
      • The recommendation is that all adults should get at least 7 hours of sleep every night
    • Developing healthy coping skills
      • These can take many forms including journaling, meditating, taking deep breathes every so often, allowing yourself to take breaks when you feel overwhelmed and crying when you need to.

If you’re ready to start taking care of your mental health, below are a few Chicagoland area resources to get you started:

  • The Chicago Department of Public Health’s (CDPH) Chicago Connects.
    • Chicago Connects provides listings of clinics and hospitals that provide mental health services. It also has information on 24-hour hotlines, peer support groups and on substance use disorders
  • The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Chicago
    • NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization and is dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.
    • NAMI Chicago is a branch of NAMI dedicated to individuals in the Chicagoland area
    • On this website, you will find 24/7 hotlines, links to shelters for adults/youth, resources for LGBTQ+ identifying people, links for help with substance use disorders, sexual assault and domestic violence survivors and veterans.
  • The Center for Contextual Change
    • With three offices in the Chicago area, this center is a private group practice offering a range of behavioral and therapeutic services for all people. They offer sliding scale and pro bono sessions for anyone facing financial barriers to mental health services
  • Haymarket Center
    • This is a non-profit agency working to change the public’s view of alcoholism and its treatment. It provides comprehensive treatment to individuals struggling with alcohol and other drug addictions.
  • Heartland Alliance
    • One of the world’s leading anti-poverty organizations, Heartland Alliance provides services to individuals who belong to endangered populations including those who are poor, isolated and displaced.
  • Thresholds
    • Located at 4101 N Ravenswood Ave, Chicago, Thresholds provides services and resources for persons with serious mental illnesses and substance use disorders in the Chicagoland area. They work with many populations including youth, young adults, veterans, young mothers, deaf and individuals experiencing homelessness.
  • Womencare Counseling Center
    • Located at 1740 Ridge Avene in Evanston, Womencare Counseling provides a variety of therapies, trainings and resources to adults, teens, couples, families and communities in the face of trauma, loss and life’s different transitions.
  • Metropolitan Family Services
    • This organization provides and mobilizes services aimed at strengthening families and communities in the Chicagoland area. They offer a variety of services and their staff includes licensed clinical social workers, counselors, case managers, mental health professionals, early childhood educations and lawyers.

For hotlines or crisis situations, the following services are available:

  • Call 24/7 hotline: 1-800-273-(TALK) 8255
  • Crisis Text Line:
    • Text 741741 for a 24/7 crisis text line – a live, trained crisis counselor receives the text and responds quickly
    • Serves anyone, in any type of crisis
  • Illinois Warm Line: 1-866-359-7953. Available Monday-Friday from 8am-5pm
  • Presence Behavioral Health 24/7 Crisis Line: 708-681-HELP (4357)
  • LGTBQ+ Crisis Hotlines and Services:
  • Trevor Project Lifeline: 1-866-488-7368; available 24/7 and free
  • TrevorText: Text the word START to 678678. Available 24/7
  • TrevorChat: 24/7 online chat portal available through The Trevor Project’s Website
  • THRIVE Lifeline: +1-313-662-8209. Available 24/7, you must be 18 years or older to call
  • SAGE LGBT Elder Hotline: 877-360-LGBT (5428); available 24/7, toll-free
  • Trans Lifeline: +1-877-565-8860; available 24/7.
    • It is staffed by transgender people and is primarily for transgender people in crisis, from struggling with gender identity to thoughts of self-harm
  • GLBT National Help Center:
    • Provides telephone, online chat and email peer-support. They speak with callers of all ages about bullying, workplace issues, HIV/AIDS anxiety, coming out…etc.
    • Toll-free national hotline: 1-888-843-4564
      • Available on Monday-Friday from 4pm to 12am EST, and Saturday from 12pm to 5pm EST
  • Youth Talkline: 1-800-246-7743
    • Available:
      • Monday-Friday 4pm to 12am EST
      • Saturday 12pm to 5pm EST
  • This service is for teens and young adults up to age 25

For a more comprehensive list of counseling and outpatient services that are available in the Chicagoland area, visit the following website: