Building On A Vision: Stepping Forward, Reaching Wider, Going Deeper

The Josselyn Center turns seventy years old in 2021. As we step forward into our next chapter we seek to build on its founding principle of equity in and access to quality mental health services. We continue to expand Irene Josselyn’s vision as we seek to eradicate barriers to quality mental health services (for ALL) through geographic expansion, more acute services, and pursuing greater equity in all we do.

Keeping Up With The Need
The Josselyn Center was established in 1951 by child psychiatrist Dr. Irene Josselyn who saw the need for affordable mental health treatment for children and families who were unable to afford private care. 

Once again, the need for quality children’s mental health services is front and center. Our service hours have increased 100% over the past year, as we’ve launched our new location in Waukegan but also seen a surge in need for services in our Cook County population as well. One-third of our clients are under the age of 18. The need is great.

“So many of my adolescent clients are spiraling down because of this pandemic, suffering from panic attacks, fear that they have COVID, and the effects of forced isolation… One young client stated feeling like they were falling into an abyss and was afraid of dying. This experience will impact our youth immeasurably if they can’t access help to manage these feelings.”   – Bunmi Bayode, Therapist 

As we continue to grow to serve more people across a wider geographic area, we are also expanding our service profile to offer more acute services. For children who receive Medicaid and need a higher level of care, we have nowhere to refer them, except facilities located an hours’ drive away.  For our lower income parents and caregivers, this commute is not feasible.

So, as we celebrate 70 years of serving Cook and Lake Counties, we have begun the process of launching a new child and adolescent outpatient program. With the vision and generous support of our board and donors, we have secured new space for this program at 495 Central, one block from our Northfield Community Mental Health Center.

We will continue to build on Irene Josselyn’s vision as we work to become a regional leader in child and adolescent mental healthcare, where children of all backgrounds and socioeconomic statuses have access to high quality care.

Working On Ourselves
Equally important to increasing services for youth, The Josselyn Center understands that diversity, equity, and inclusion are critical to serving our mission and ensuring mental health services for those in need.

As a community mental health center, The Josselyn Center understands the importance of recruiting and retaining a diverse staff that reflects our client’s races, cultures, and identities. Study after study has revealed that therapy is more effective when the therapist understands and shares a client’s background, ethnicity, and belief system. I’m proud and honored to work alongside our clinicians who represent diverse races, genders, ethnicities, sexual orientations and socioeconomic statuses.

It is not enough to employ an intercultural staff. We need to embody diversity, equity, and inclusion in our policies, practices, and culture. That is why The Josselyn Center has contracted with Single Story, LLC to guide us on a three-year strategic plan to take us to the next level…to a place where our staff is fully supported, feels seen and heard, and shares the belief that processes and outcomes are fair and equitable. Further, we will work to ensure that our clients feel valued, secure and validated at The Josselyn . Our goal is to become an employer and provider of excellence, and that can only be achieved through diversity of identity and experiences.  DEI is, in many ways, at the very core of our motto, The Center of mental health and hope.

Founded by the experienced thought leader, Brian Corley, Single Story will lead The Josselyn Center on an intentional and time intensive path through and beyond cultural competency, towards the creation and implementation of a DEI mission, purpose, guidelines and strategic plan.  This will not just be a “check the box” or “one and done” , but will rather results in policies and practices across our organization that we continue to review and evaluate in years to come.  This work is will better enable us to embody The Josselyn Center’s value statement: We educate, connect and show empathy, in order to earn trust and provide compassionate care which transforms lives.

2021 is, indeed, a year for stepping forward, reaching wider, and going deeper. We believe wholeheartedly that this not only improves lives but strengthens entire communities. I hope you’ll join us on this journey.


Susan Resko