On The Table 2017: A conversation about mental health care parity and the AHCA

Mental health care is at risk of becoming inaccessible for hundreds of thousands (or perhaps millions) of women, teens, children, and men, as a result of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) legislation that passed the House May 4.  If the AHCA passes the Senate, states and insurance companies would have the choice not to cover mental health services, the choice leaders from several states have already indicated they would make.  This would constitute a serious regression from mandated mental health coverage by insurance companies throughout all states — for all forms of emotional, behavioral, and substance use problems — as part of the essential health benefits in the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  This issue is not partisan.  It is about people getting care they need.  And that is something worth fighting for.  

At some point in our lives, most of us will reach out to talk to someone who can help — when we are making a major life transition, experiencing relationship conflict at home or work, suffering gender or racial inequities, needing help with parenting, grieving the death of a loved one or the terrible toll of violence, caring for an aging parent, or coming to terms with a serious diagnosis.  

At these times, many of us will turn to a caring therapeutic relationship to better understand ourselves, overcome our distress, and determine how to best take care of ourselves.  Seeking care for our emotional well-being is both reflective and admirable.  We must end the stigma now. We need insurance benefits to provide care for our emotional well-being on par with our physical well-being. Emotional well-being is our birthright. And we need our police to know how to de-escalate encounters with mentally ill or challenged individuals and avoid unnecessary violence.  

The Illinois Psychological Association (IPA) Women’s Section and Sub-Committee on Overcoming Gender Bias, the Psychotherapy Action Network (PsiAN) and Chicago Women Take Action have joined together to host a conversation focusing on: emotional well-being • empowering women • psychotherapy • mental health parity • providing police with tools for interactions with mentally challenged individuals

Our conversation is part of the Chicago Community Trust‘s On the Table 2017, which this year focuses on mental health during May, mental health month.  The Kennedy Forum,  co-host of our event, is a partner with The Trust’s On The Table 2017.  

To better inform our conversation about how we will be affected in Illinois should the ACHA pass, and what we can do to protect access to mental health services and strengthen existing mental health parity laws in our state, the evening will be kicked off by two of the foremost experts on these issues, Kelly O’Brien, Illinois Executive Director of The Kennedy Forum, and Mark Heyrman, Clinical Professor of Law at the University of Chicago. 

If you want to join with community members and organizations to support the importance of emotional well-being, make quality psychotherapy more available, and de-stigmatize emotional and behavioral problems— Join us May 16.  If you are interested in talking with women activists — women who helped to organized the Chicago Women’s March and the Women’s March on Washington — who have been working on behalf of women’s advocacy for years –  join our conversation about emotionally empowering women, overcoming gender bias, and helping women advocate for their needs, including emotional well-being and access to treatment.

Chicago area women are finding our voices, overcoming gender bias and inequality, empowering one another, and taking action. Chicago area men are listening in new ways to understand how they can get more involved and create a better community.

Will you please join the conversation?  Your voice matters and can make a difference.

On the Table 2017: Can we talk?
Le Pain Quotidien
1562 North Wells Street (Wells and North Ave.)
Tuesday May 16
6:30 – 8:30 pm
Questions? Contact Patricia Walker, PhD:  pwalkerphd@sbcglobal.net

May 16, 2017
6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
6:30 pm:  Dinner (individually ordered at the restaurant)
6:45 pm: Welcome Address: Patricia Walker, Ph.D.
6:50 pm: Invited Speaker: Kelly O’Brien, The Kennedy Forum, Illinois Executive Director
7:05 pm: Guest Speaker: Mark Heyrman, Clinical Professor, University of Chicago Law School
7:15 pm: Co-host Organizations: Psychotherapy Action Network; Illinois Psychological Association (IPA) Women’s Section, IPA Working Committee on Hate and Harassment (WCHH) and Overcoming Gender Bias; Chicago Women Take Action
7:30 pm: Conversations at Tables
8:00 pm: Conversation Presentations per Table and Next Steps
8:30 pm: Closing Remarks: Honorable Judge Ann Breen-Greco

PROGRAM COMMITTEE & Conversation Facilitators
Illinois Psychological Association (IPA) Women’s Section and IPA Working Committee on Hate and Harassment (WCHH) Chair: Kalyani Gopal, Ph.D., HSPP
IPA WCHH Sub-Committee on Overcoming Gender Bias: Jane Conron, Ph.D., Colleen Cira, Psy.D., Patricia Walker, Ph.D., Patricia McMahon, Psy.D.
Psychotherapy Action Network Chair: Nancy Burke, Ph.D.
Chicago Women Take Action Co-Founders: Marilyn Katz & Honorable Judge Ann Breen-Greco


The Illinois Psychological Association’s Overcoming Gender Bias sub-committee was established with the goal of promoting positive female empowerment and equitable gender roles in our homes, communities, and the workplace. The goal of the sub-committee is to create dialogue, enhance awareness, and identify actionable behavior/conversation that will highlight the importance of gender equity, mental health, and community well-being.

CWTA is a group of women united by a commitment to achieving women’s leadership and economic and social equality. We are activists of all ages and from diverse backgrounds working on the local, national and international level to promote women leaders and secure the health and well being of women, their families, and their communities.ChicagoWomenTakeAction.com .

PsiAN aims to organize, formulate initiatives and collectively advocate for mental health policy that is based on the complexity of the individual and not simply on the identification of discrete symptoms.  We advocate for teaching, research, policy and practice in which psychotherapeutic depth of understanding of the uniqueness of individual suffering, the complex psychotherapeutic process of individual growth and change, and the essential role of the psychotherapeutic relationship are valued as key elements of successful treatment.​

The Chicago Community Trust’s On the Table is an annual forum designed to elevate civic conversation, foster new relationships and inspire collaborative action across the region.   On Tuesday, May 16, 2017 tens of thousands of Chicago-area residents will gather in small groups to share a meal and discuss the challenges and opportunities we face.  These conversations can inspire new ways we can work together to make our communities stronger, safer and more dynamic. The Kennedy Forum is partnering as an organization with the Trust’s OTT2017, hosting a series of conversations.