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At Malcolm X College in Chicago, more than 200 people attended the first public health forum convened since the Chicago City Council created a task force in January to study the city’s lack of mental health services. Residents have demanded better care, but they have experienced infrequent and worsening mental health treatment since more than half of the city’s public health clinics shut down seven years ago due to budget cuts. The forum is the first step in the process of taking input and recommendations from the community and generating a report to present to Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s new administration. Lightfoot campaigned on the promise to repair the city’s broken mental health system, but her exact plans have remained unclear. Advocates have said funding for mental health care has continued to decline. A report last year by the Collaborative for Community Wellness showed the city’s Southwest Side, for example, was still struggling from a lack of adequate resources. Thousands of residents would use mental health services if they had better access, the report said. One of the primary focuses of the task force is to take a hard look at the possibility of reopening the mental health clinics closed under the leadership of former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

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