Lighting Sparks, Changing Lives - 4:33
Beth Nyland, Literacy DuPage
Posted Aug 22, 2019
Imagine if a huge barrier kept you from some of life’s most basic, essential activities: buying groceries, talking to your child’s teacher, reading a prescription bottle. This is reality for far too many of our neighbors—including more than 100,000 DuPage County residents who struggle with English. And many of these people lack the time, money, and transportation to attend traditional language classes. Fortunately, they have another option: Literacy DuPage. Literacy DuPage is a non-profit organization that trains volunteer tutors to work side-by-side with adults who want to learn English. This army of big-hearted volunteers provides free tutoring to immigrants, refugees, and even native English speakers who want to improve their lives by improving their language skills. Literacy DuPage runs entirely on volunteer energy and donor generosity. Right now, the organization is actively involved in three critical actions:
> Connecting with adults who need the organization’s free services
> Recruiting and training volunteers to serve as tutors (no experience required)
> Raising funds from individuals and organizations who see the life-changing possibilities of breaking the language barrier.
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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