Chicago Public Schools Hosts Annual Mental Health Summit at Malcolm X College

Chicago Public Schools Hosts Annual Mental Health Summit at Malcolm X College
Veteran's Memorial Park


Chicago Public Schools Hosts Annual Mental Health Summit at Malcolm X College (Chicago, IL) — More than 200 students and staff from across Chicago Public Schools convened at Malcolm X College today to break the stigma around mental health through workshops, wellness activities, music and more. CPS Chief Health Officer Dr. Sofia Adawy Akintunde served as a keynote speaker and participant along with other CPS team members. Saturday’s summit is the second annual event and represents an early start to Mental Health Awareness Month in May.

“The Mental Health Summit highlights the District’s commitment to the mental, social, and emotional well-being of our students and staff,” said CPS CEO Pedro Martinez. “Mental health  support and services are  a critical part  of the  continuum of health resources the District provides to help eliminate barriers to learning.”

The Mental Health Summit, organized by the District’s Office of Student Health and Wellness, aims to provide healing-centered and trauma-informed ways of supporting students and breaking the stigma around mental health, especially as the District continues to support students as they emerge from the pandemic and other trauma.

CPS has invested in additional staff, including counselors and social workers, to support students’ mental health and well-being. The District has increased the percentage of social workers by more than 60 percent over the last six years and last year, the District won a $15 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education, which will in part be used to boost school social worker recruitment, hiring and retention.

The District has also made significant investments to expand Behavioral Health Teams (BHT). BHTs are school-based professionals who identify students experiencing trauma to provide wrap-around support from the school and external partners. By the end of this school year, all CPS-managed schools will have a BHT.

“Mental health is a top priority of the District,” said Dr. Adawy Akintunde. “The Mental Health Summit brings together our students and school practitioners, such as psychologists, counselors, and social workers, to strategize methods to improve mental healthcare in our District.”

In October 2023, the District won a $415,000 grant from the State to improve post-pandemic student mental health care. The District is using part of that funding to collaborate with Rush University’s Substance Use Center for Excellence to deliver training and professional development for staff around mental health and substance use, including opioid overdose prevention and Narcan administration.

As of March 2024, CPS became one of the first districts in the nation to stock all 634 schools, including options, charters, and contract schools with Narcan, an opioid antagonist. As of April 1, the District has trained 66 percent of staff in overdose prevention and Narcan administration in collaboration with Rush University Medical Center through the Safe Schools platform.

Students like Jasmine Fong, an 11th-grader at Lane Tech College Prep, took part in planning and presenting the Summit. Fong presented on the topic of “imposter syndrome.”

“Imposter syndrome is an internal experience of self-doubt and believing you are not as competent as others perceive you to be,” said Fong. “I have worked through my struggles with imposter syndrome and want to help support and empower my peers to feel confident in their abilities too!”

Chicago Public Schools Hosts Annual Mental Health Summit at Malcolm X College


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