Mental Health Pro Bono Pilot Program to Launch

Monday, April 2, 2018

Mental Health Pro Bono Pilot Program to Launch

Every year, nearly one in five Americans will experience a mental health crisis or concern, and countless more will watch a loved one struggle with mental illness. Working to ensure access to appropriate care and services for someone with mental illness can be overwhelming. Friends and family often receive conflicting information and struggle to understand the medical, legal, and supportive services that are available, how they intersect, and how they can be accessed by or on behalf of a loved one.

In CVLS adult guardianship appointments, our volunteer GALs handle cases where an adult child petitions the Court for guardianship of a parent with mental illness, usually to ensure that he or she will be able to make sure that the parent takes prescribed medication. The child manages to file the petition pro se and navigate through tricky courthouse procedures only to find that, even as court-appointed guardian, the child does not have the authority to make the parent take psychotropic medication against the parent’s will. Guardianship may still be an appropriate and beneficial tool for the family, but the process of navigating legal, therapeutic, and social services systems can be confusing and frustrating.

CVLS invites you to Empowering Families Affected by Mental Illness at the Chicago Bar Association on April 9, 2018 from 1:00 PM - 4:30 PM. You will learn from mental health law experts and social service providers about how civil mental health laws can empower families to seek help on behalf of their loved ones, and about the importance of holistic support during recovery. Any attorney who has represented a client managing a mental health situation will find this program incredibly valuable.

Attendees will also have the opportunity to learn about the new Mental Health Pro Bono Pilot Program. Operated by the Center for Disability and Elder Law, attorneys will provide limited scope, but high impact, assistance to families struggling to get legal help for their loved ones before, during, and after a mental health episode. Pro bono volunteers will work directly with families, offering vital information about their legal options, ranging from guardianship to involuntary inpatient admission. These volunteers will be provided with training and access to support as well as supervision from legal aid providers and lawyers from the private bar.

Questions about the program can be directed to Susan L. DeCostanza at