Amid the widespread defunding of community mental healthcare programs across the country, the Cook County Jail in Chicago has become a default treatment center for people living with mental illness. Our project exposes the challenges and injustices of treating mental health issues through the criminal justice system: A system that is punitive by design. We advocate for preventative solutions in community mental healthcare through our feature film, Any Given Day, and its outreach campaign.
In Chicago, community mental health care has been actively defunded for decades. Between 2009 and 2012, Illinois cut $113.7 million in mental health funding, which resulted in the shutdown of two state hospitals and six Chicago mental health clinics. As a result. people in mental health crisis often wind up in the criminal justice system. According to Mental Health America, in the United States, 1.2 million people living with mental illness sit in jail and prison each year.
By telling the stories of the 3 people in this film we can draw attention to the personal impact of living at the intersection of mental illness, poverty, and substance use, and the stigma and isolation that perpetuates these cycles through communities. We will help shed light on the disproportionate criminalization of people of color, the challenges of treating people in a system that's designed to be punitive, and a need for preventative solutions in community mental health treatment.
This documentary is meant to spark a dialogue amongst stakeholders that will lead to concrete action and steps to improve mental health support services in Chicago, Illinois, and beyond, investing in wrap-around care and support rather than solely championing specialty criminal justice programs.
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