Every generation can relate to teens’ experiences navigating friendships, academic pressures, and the meaning of independence. But in recent years, social media and gun violence compounded these struggles and the emergence of a global pandemic created a perfect storm.
The aftermath? An undeniable mental health crisis among American youth.
Pillars Community Health (PCH), a suburban Chicago nonprofit, joined forces with the National Alliance on Mental Illness Metro Suburban (NAMI) to create a space where teens can receive a range of interventions designed to build coping skills and manage their emotional and behavioral health. This month, The Loft at Eight Corners opened its doors.
Listening and learning
Pillars Community Health and NAMI Metro Suburban understood that meeting teens’ needs required them to go straight to the source.
The organizations gathered local student volunteers to form a Teen Advisory Committee and held focus groups, where the students shared their thoughts on everything from teen mental health and desired service offerings to interior design and, finally, a name. The students chose “The Loft at Eight Corners,” a nod to the neighborhood where PCH and NAMI would soon convert a former yoga studio into the one-of-a-kind space.
Getting the work done
Formulating the concept and designing the physical space weren’t the only challenges PCH and NAMI had to address. Healthcare providers—particularly those serving minors—must tread carefully through a web of complex regulations surrounding funding, staffing, administration, reporting, and parental consent requirements. The founders also needed to secure and accept the needed funding, including a $1 million grant awarded to The Loft by Cook County. The NP team helped The Loft’s founders navigate a myriad of privacy laws, including HIPAA regulations related to protected health information.
Launching The Loft
After months of work and years of planning, The Loft at Eight Corners held its grand opening on March 13, 2023. Open 365 days/year, a team of mental health professionals serve teens, providing group sessions, one-on-one therapy, and a yoga and meditation space, among other mental health services. All options are open to walk-ins and free to teens and their families. And in addition to supporting individual needs, the Loft’s emergency intervention services provide an age-appropriate outlet for teens facing psychiatric emergencies, easing the strain on crowded, understaffed emergency rooms.
“Today is an important step in expanding mental health care for teens in the western suburbs of Chicago, and it is our hope that this space will provide vital support to those struggling with mental health experiences,” said Angela Curran, President and CEO of Pillars Community Health.
Nixon Peabody looks forward to continuing its allyship with Pillars Community Health and The Loft at Eight Corners.