Parents Stand Up for Mental Health and Healing from Trauma

Two women in matching blue POWER-PAC IL shirts speak at a community gathering for mental health

Recently, POWER-PAC IL parent leader Esmeralda Martinez and COFI organizer Emily Cole participated in a poster presentation through the Chicago Consortium for Community Engagement with the Chicago Department of Public Health. They shared parents’ research process for surveys conducted this spring to better understand how trauma and mental health issues are affecting Illinois families.

Two women stand in front of a poster presentation on mental health survey findings

The process began during the pandemic when parents shared their personal experiences with mental health and trauma (which unfortunately started well before COVID). Leaders agreed that they needed to hear from more families and take action. Parents developed a survey, and then were trained in trauma-informed surveying techniques by COFI staff and partners at Rush.

Survey questions included:

  • What is causing stress in your life, your children’s lives, and for the children in your community?
  • How do you deal with the stress, depression, anxiety, or mental and emotional wellbeing of your children and/or grandchildren?
  • What services would you like to have access to but haven’t been able to?
  • What kinds of barriers or challenges have you experienced when you’ve tried to access those services and supports?

Over the course of several months, parents teamed up to interview members in their community for conversations that lasted from 15 to 60 minutes. Parents also facilitated small group discussions at community forums in Aurora, Elgin, and Evanston with community members and service providers.

A woman draws on a poster during a Community Healing workshop

In the end, parents completed 1,000 interviews across the state! Now, parents are working on their recommendations based on the findings. Stay tuned for more information on the report release.