Local Early Childhood & Autism Services - 5:14
Kelly Anne Ohde, Easterseals
Posted Oct 23, 2018
Easterseals changes the way the world defines and views disabilities by making profound, positive differences in people's lives every day. Easterseals serves 33,000 clients annually in early childhood and autism programs across Chicagoland and the Rockford Region in Illinois. The organization provides a wide-range of programs, some of which include therapeutic schools for individuals living with autism spectrum disorder and other intellectual disabilities, inclusive early childhood education, early intervention, home visiting, training and more. Throughout all of life’s moments – from the ordinary to the extraordinary, and everything in between – Easterseals is here. We’re right beside families – listening, understanding, helping in the ways they ask us to, giving support, cheering them on. Easterseals is a team of problem-solvers, skilled practitioners and people committed to sweeping away limitations and shattering stereotypes.
Hosted by: Ellee Pai Hong Produced by: Greater Chicago Newsmakers Team

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Digital Mental Health Initiative

The UI Center on Depression and Resilience has launched a new innovative artificial intelligence (AI) and technology based treatment initiative, creating a digital based mental health safety net, to address Illinois' mental health crisis, and treat suicide risk factors. The UICDR has developed numerous digital tools, apps and inventions to reduce mental health disparities and offers these cutting-edge products to the public. This pioneering concept potentially can serve as a blueprint for the cost-effective integration of AI and technology to give greater access to mental health resources to poverty stricken areas and combat the growing national mental health crisis. This initiative is the “Digital Mental Health Initiative” (DMHI). The DMHI is a collaborative, transdisciplinary group of scientist, researchers, engineers and physicians working across 19 labs in at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Psychiatry Department to improve equitable access to mental health treatment with innovative smart, connected technology. The DMHI employs cutting-edge research to develop evidence-based digital tools and other technology based mental health treatments, which have already effectively treated thousands of patients. 1.5 million people in Illinois live with serious mental illness. According to the most recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide in Illinois has risen 23 percent, and is now ranked as the 11th leading cause of death in the state. The prevalence of depression in Illinois has increased, as it has globally, catapulting depression to the number one cause of disability worldwide.

This crisis has come at a staggering cost; estimates place the economic cost of untreated depression/behavioral health in the state to be more than 1.4 billion dollars a year.

Lack of access to treatment, and inefficient models of care, lie at the heart of this crisis. These numbers are a sobering reminder that we as a society have not adequately addressed the core reasons nor put forth the proper solutions to confront this health crisis, and necessitated the creation of UI Center on Depression and Resilience “Digital Mental Health Initiative” (DMHI).

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