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Team Member Spotlight: Monica Estrada

Monica Estrada

Each month we spotlight a different member of our wonderful, all-volunteer team. Get to know the people dedicating their time to increasing access to care at Therapy4thePeople.

This spotlight first appeared in the March 2022 edition of our monthly newsletter.

What is your current role at Therapy4thePeople?

As the Regional Ambassador for the Chicago area, I seek and upload new mental health resources to our ever-growing directory each week. I have uploaded over 120 listings to the Chicagoland area over the past four months since the Regional Ambassadors Program began and I’m excited to continue finding mental health resources that are affordable, culturally-informed, and evidence-based. I’m incredibly proud of being part of a hard-working team and seeing the work that we have put towards expanding our directory over a short period of time. I look forward to continue growing as a team and seeing our major goals of connecting help-seekers to affordable mental health services, educating help-seekers, and building local relationships with service providers grow into fruition.

What’s something special about your region that other people may not know?

This past summer (August 25th, 2021), Governor JB Pritzker signed into law House Bills 2565 and 2784, known as The Community Emergency Services Support Act (also known as the Stephon Edwards Watts Act) in the state of Illinois. House Bill 2565 requires all insurances cover medically necessary mental healthcare beginning January 1st, 2023. House Bill 2784 was named after Stephon Edward Watts, a 15-year-old boy who had autism and was murdered by police officers in his home in Calumet City (a suburb of Chicago) in February 2012 when his family had to call 911 to get help with his outbursts. There will now be a first-responder system that coordinates 911 and 988 emergency responses to reduce the arrests of neuro-divergent individuals and those with mental illnesses and provide specialist interventions rather than police involvement. [Source: Illinois.gov]

What motivated you to join Therapy4thePeople?

I joined Therapy4thePeople because I wanted to find a way to help make mental health resources more accessible to people of color in Chicago, which was an especially difficult goal to accomplish considering we are in a pandemic. In conversations with friends and family, I realized that those who are open to the idea of going to therapy often have the same lingering questions: Where do I start? Where should I go? Who can I talk to? When I found Therapy4thePeople, I saw the opportunity to build upon my knowledge of the mental health services available in the city and to increase psychoeducation to eliminate stigma, make known affordable service options through our directory, and identify the evidence-based mental health resources that Chicago/Chicagoland area has to offer. As we overcome this pandemic, I’m happy to be making new connections and working hands-on to make mental health services more accessible.

Where are you currently in your career, and where do you hope to go?

Currently, I am a research study coordinator at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, where I collaborate with others passionate about research in social sciences and use patient-reported outcomes (i.e. depression, anxiety, physical function) to monitor care quality and enhance the quality of life of a range of patient populations. Looking forward, I hope to be a graduate student in a Clinical Psychology PhD program to study the socioemotional and academic implications of intergenerational trauma among youth.

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