Transforming the Future For Our Students (By Invite Only)

The number of students requiring intensive mental health resources is increasing in our school districts.  Join fellow educational staff for an informative and interactive symposium to raise awareness, explore common challenges, and share resources to address our shared goals of supporting students with mental health needs across their school years.  The symposium will include presentations from leading professionals in the field in the morning and in-depth discussions with colleagues in the afternoon to explore challenges and opportunities.

Date:  Wednesday, December 7, 2016
Time:  8:30am - 3:00pm 
Place:  Oakton Community College, Des Plaines Campus, Room 1604
Parking:  Parking in Lots A or D is recommended

Day of Workshop Resources

  • Presentation Copies 

  • ​Other Resources

  • Presenter Biographies

  • Dr. Vijay Mittal, Ph.D.
    Vijay Mittal is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at Northwestern University.  He recently moved to Chicago from Boulder (where he served on the faculty in the Psychology Department at the University of Colorado), and lives with his wife Audra (a performing artist) and dog Truman (a  puppy).  Vijay is also affiliated with the Departments of Psychiatry in Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine and the Department of Medical Social Sciences.  He also serves as an associate with the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPR), member of the Developmental Science Initiative, and precept in the Northwestern Interdepartmental Neuroscience program (NUIN).  His work, which focuses on examining adolescent cognitive, emotive, social, and brain development, aims promote early identification and novel treatments for youth showing risk syndromes for disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.  He has published more than 100 peer-reviewed articles and chapters in this area, and his research program, the Adolescent Development and Preventive Treatment (ADAPT) lab, has received large scale funding from the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH) as well as private foundations.  Vijay has also been the recipient of honors including the NIMH Biobehavioral Research for Innovative New Scientists (BRAINS) award, Federation of Associations in Behavioral and Brain Sciences (FABBS) Early Career Impact Award, and the Society for Research in Psychopathology (SRP) Early Career Award. 

  • Candy Malina, LCSW
    Candy Malina is the Senior Clinical Director of Youth & Young Adult Services for Thresholds, which is one of the oldest and largest providers of services for those experiencing mental health conditions in Illinois.  She is a clinical social worker, psychotherapist and social service administrator with more than 30 years of experience in agencies serving children, adolescents and emerging adults, in settings ranging from residential treatment programs to therapeutic day schools to outpatient and in-home services.  She has particular passion and expertise in working with young people who have experienced severe trauma and multiple losses, especially those described as “difficult to reach”.   She currently provides clinical leadership for two recently-opened innovative programs at Thresholds – the MindStrong program, which provides state-of-the-art services for young people experiencing a first episode of psychosis and their families, and the Emerge program, which serves young adults with a variety of mental health conditions through community-based support.   After spending 30 years in the Boston area, she has returned to her roots in Chicago where she grew up (and attended K-12) in Skokie in District 219.

  • Patrick McGrath, Ph.D.
    Dr. McGrath has been recognized as a world renowned expert in Anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorders (OCD). His extensive training and expertise working with Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy and Anxiety Disorders were fundamental in the development of the School Refusal/School Anxiety program. Dr. McGrath has authored several books and publications including a stress management workbook called, Don’t Try Harder, Try Different, and The OCD Answer Book. Dr. McGrath has also been featured in many newspapers, journals, magazines, and has been on numerous radio and television programs across the country.

  • Jackie Rhew, MA, CADC, LCPC
    Jackie has been instrumental in the development of the School Anxiety School Refusal Program at Alexian Brothers Behavioral Health since its inception in 2007. Working closely with educational supports and schools, she brings a unique and special service to the clients and their families. Jackie has worked in hospital, educational and private practice settings, both in the Chicagoland area and overseas, including South America and the Middle East. She has co-authored several publications, including School Refusal in Children and Adolescents. Jackie has been featured on both ABC Channel 7 and CBS Channel 2 newscasts highlighting her work with adolescents struggling with avoidant school behaviors as well as bullying in the schools.

  • Christine Walker, Parent
    Christine Walker was inspired to create the Chasing Hope Foundation as an extension of her work in support families like her own who are raising a child with autism and related brain disorders.  With a strong background in public policy, Christine has worked for elected and appointed officials in Illinois, Ohio and Washington, D.C. Christine served in the administration of George H.W. Bush in the Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs at the Labor Department.  Prior to becoming a parent of a child with autism, Christine was an award-winning sales executive within Tiffany & Co.’s Business Sales organization. Later as a regional manager, Christine mentored and developed the Business Sales force to exceed the expectations of corporate clients throughout the eastern half of the U.S.  Christine received a B.A. in Politics from Lake Forest College and a Masters in Public Policy and Administration from Northwestern University and is an Adjunct Faculty Member for Adler University’s Masters of Public Policy and Administration program. Christine lives in Winnetka, Illinois with her husband, Dave and their three children, ages 15, 13 and 12 and yellow lab, Scout.

Statistics From School Mental Health Symposium 12.7.16 

  • Approximately 25% of the entire US population, or 80 million ​people, experience mental illness

  • In Illinois, over 2.5 million people experience mental illness

  • In Illinois schools, there are approximately 175,000 students who receive special education services due to emotional ​disabilities

  • Over 4,000 who have needs that exceed the resources of local school districts, and subsequently require educational placement in the therapeutic day school setting or residential facilities

THE LAST 30 Years

  • In 1985, the U.S. Department of Ed, commissioned the National Longitudinal Transition Study, to assess the post-school outcomes for individuals with disabilities.  Since that time a second study was commissioned, followed by a third...

What have we learned over time? 

  • We’ve learned that the post-school outcomes for individuals with emotional disabilities have been and continue to be inferior to the outcomes experienced by not only their non-disabled peers, but by their peers of other category of disability 


  • Of the nation’s students identified as having emotional disabilities, over 50% exit the school system without a high school diploma

  • Only 25% continue their education after high school

  • And of those who do continue their educations, over 70% experience mental health crises while on campus, often resulting in the lack of degree completion


  • In the workforce, between 60 and 90% of individuals who live with mental illness are unemployed

  • For the fortunate ones who are employed, many experience elevated rates of underemployment, being passed over for promotions and employment instability


  • With an education that may not even equate to a high school diploma, high rates of unemployment, under employment and employment instability, independent and stable living is presumably difficult to achieve.

  • In 2014, it was estimated that over 13,000 Illinoisans experienced homelessness each night

  • Over 30% of those individuals, or nearly 4,000 people, suffered from severe mental illness

  • Comparably, on a national level, over 30% of adult homelessness is associated with severe mental illness


  • Involvement in the criminal justice system is a frequent reality for those who experience mental illness.

  • In Illinois, over 60% of local jail inmates, over 55% of state prisoners and approximately 45% of federal prisoners experience a form of mental illness

  • Nationally, over 70% of youth in the juvenile justice system experience at least one mental health condition

  • It is estimated that individuals who suffer from mental illness are 3 times more likely to be in the criminal justice system than receiving treatment in an inpatient facility


  • Over the last 20 years, psychiatric beds available to individuals with severe mental illness have decreased by nearly 33%, while the number of Americans suffering from severe mental illness has increased by over 8%

  • Since 2009, States have collectively cut over $5 billion in mental health service funding, with Illinois ranking in the top three for the largest funding reductions

  • With more people in need and fewer services available, access to mental health care is of critical concern

  • Of the millions of Americans who experience mental illness annually, less than 40% will receive mental health services this year

  • Only 50% youth ages 8 to 15 experiencing mental illness will receive mental health services

  • And in Illinois, only 20% of students with emotional disabilities will receive mental health services


  • Of all illnesses, mental illness accounts for approximately 15% of the economic burden in the United States

  • Conservatively, it is estimated that mental illness costs nearly Americans $195 billion dollars per year in lost earnings

  • Further, between lost wages, healthcare costs and disability benefits, mental illness costs Americans $317 billion dollars annually


  • While we have literally put a dollar amount on the impact of mental illness on the US economy, what about the impact on the families of those suffering from mental illness?

  • Over  60% of parents caring for a child with mental illness, feel that they are unable to adequately care for their other children

  • 50% report having to change jobs, in order to care for their child

  • 70% report significant strain on their marriages and other relationships

  • Over 50% report stigma and prejudice related to mental illness had been experienced by members of their families

  • And more than 20% report having made the unimaginable decision of relinquishing custody of their child with mental illness, a sacrifice made with the hope of giving them a fighting chance at receiving the career and treatment they need


  • With statistics that leave us at a loss for words, let’s not forget who is at the heart of this critical conversation. 

  • 75% of individuals suffering from mental illness believe that people do not care about​​​​