Talking about mental health isn’t always easy. At Mercy Home for Boys & Girls, we keep an open dialogue with our kids about mental health, letting them know that just like being physically ill or injured – they sometimes require professional help. That is why we are so grateful for the individuals and organizations who help us provide the assistance our kids need.

One such organization is The Links, Incorporated. The Links are an international not-for-profit corporation, and one of the nation’s oldest volunteer service organizations. Consisting of nearly 15,000 women of color, the mission of The Links is to uphold a commitment to enriching, sustaining and ensuring the culture and economic survival of African Americans and other persons of African ancestry.

In April of 2018, a relationship was born between the Chicago chapter of The Links and Mercy Home when they became a supporter of our Medical, Dental, Psychological and Wellness program. This program provides our kids resources like doctor visits, dentist visits and psychiatrist visits, in addition to the therapeutic care our on-site therapists provide.

Though the mission of the Chicago Links has always been to serve a multitude of needs, in 2015 the chapter turned its focus towards reducing the stigma surrounding mental health in the African American community.

“Talking about mental health isn’t always easy. At Mercy Home for Boys & Girls, we keep an open dialogue with our kids about mental health.”

“People don’t talk about it,” said Annette Johnson, the Program Chairman for the Chicago Links. “It’s there. It’s there in families, it’s there in our communities, and our homes, but people just kind of close up and don’t talk about it.”

In addition to supporting organizations like Mercy Home, the Chicago Links promote mental health and wellness by creating dialogues in the community. One of the ways they do this is by giving presentations about mental health in places like churches.

Recently, the Chicago Links had a chance to visit our Walsh Campus for a tour. Johnson feels the site-visits not only help them see what they are supporting, they provide a unique experience as well.

“This has been a really powerful opportunity for the membership,” Johnson explained. “Because many of our people have different lives; different professional lives, and so for them to come out to an agency that supports girls and boys might be very, very new for them.”

“One thing is for certain; the Chicago Links have helped create opportunities for the boys and girls of Mercy Home to address their mental health needs.”

Now four years into their mental health initiative, the Chicago Links are seeing positive results. There is a greater sense of awareness among its membership, and the number of people they have been able to impact is growing. They are also utilizing the site-visits to increase involvement with organizations they already support.

Though she is happy with the awareness the Chicago Links have brought to the community, Johnson knows the solution is not so simple.

“Once you create awareness, then you have to have opportunities,” Johnson said. “And one of the sad things is that we don’t have ready access to mental health care in this city.”

One thing is for certain; the Chicago Links have helped create opportunities for the boys and girls of Mercy Home to address their mental health needs and more. We want to thank them for their support of our children and their work in the community. We are blessed to have such a wonderful organization by our side.

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