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City Officials: Mental Health Services Will Remain Strong

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The Emanuel Administration is trying to reassure mental health advocates that patients will continue to receive good services, despite the city's efforts to save money.

As WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports, members of the Mental Health Movement worry that the recent privatization of some health services in Chicago could be a first step toward privatization of mental health services as well.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports


That, they believe, would constitute a cut in services and would mean their care will suffer.

The group also claimed the lack of proper treatment for the mentally ill will lead to more cases for police.

"We are blessed to have the officers that we have, but if they're not allowed to their job and their forced to do someone else's job, that's going to be a burden on the city," mental health advocate N'Dana Carter said as Mayor Emanuel unveiled his public health agenda Tuesday.

But ahead of a meeting with the city's Mental Health Advisory Board Wednesday, Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Bechara Choucair could not say if mental health services would be privatized at all.

"We're listening to our advocates. We're listening to community members. We're evaluating the processes right now. We've made significant improvement in the way we delivered mental health services last year," Choucair said, "and so, we're going to take all of this into account. We are looking forward to the meeting with the Mental Health Advisory Board."

Still, Choucair, says, the Emanuel administration is dedicated to providing the best care possible.

Emanuel did not confront protesters who were concerned about mental health services during his speech Tuesday at the University Club of Chicago, located at 76 E. Monroe St., on Tuesday morning. His sport-utility vehicle Emanuel's pulled up and stopped briefly while the driver conferred with the head of his security detail.

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