Chicago Department of Public Health and the Community Safety Coordination Center Launch Mental Health Skills Trainings in Communities Most Impacted by Violence

June 2, 2022

Series of 12 learning cohorts will gain valuable skills to support fellow community members in managing stress and trauma

Anna Dolezal

CHICAGO— This summer, the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the Community Safety Coordination Center (CSCC), in partnership with The Center for Healing and Justice through Sport (CHJS), are launching a series of trainings to support community stakeholders in strengthening their trauma-informed mental health skills. Addressing trauma and bringing resources and support to traditional and non-traditional service providers is a key component of the CSCC’s strategy and commitment to addressing the root causes of violence.  

“The path to a healthy Chicago must address mental and behavioral health,” said CDPH Commissioner Allison Arwady, M.D. “Bringing trauma-informed care to people impacted by violence is critical to supporting our residents, which is why we have increased by seven fold our investment in behavioral health care and services since 2019. But we also know that we need to bring resources to people where they are, which is why we are supporting community leaders through these trainings to emphasize the role we all play in supporting each other.”

The impacts of gun violence extend beyond the immediate victim to family members, friends, neighbors, and other community members. Efforts to reduce the effects of community violence on individuals include education about the prevalence of toxic stress and protective benefits of strengthening relationships between community members, including youth, impacted by violence and trauma.

Each learning cohort aims to activate and support persons across programs and organizations who are most likely to encounter individuals and families who have experienced the impacts of community violence. Participants include street outreach workers, victim services providers, faith leaders, mentoring and youth-serving staff, hospital personnel, community members, Chicago Public Library staff, substance use and mental health providers, domestic violence agencies, educators, Chicago Police Department officers and staff, and community-based organizations.

“The first step in healing begins with listening, and the CSCC’s approach to trauma response is at its heart community focused,” said Tamara Mahal, CSCC Chief Coordination Officer. “By convening these trainings at the community level, we are working to engage and equip local leaders to understand and respond to toxic stress experienced by residents in their own communities, so we can collectively tackle the root causes of violence.”

Participants can learn strategies to build relationships, create trust and psychological safety, and learn to use evidenced-based activities to help manage stress and emotional dysregulation. Each trainings cohort will convene in person for four 2-hour sessions at a location within the community area of focus. The hyperlocal focus and inclusive nature of the trainings will equip diverse traditional and non-traditional service providers – both with or without specialized mental health credentials – and provide a unique opportunity to address mental health concerns on a community level. This hyperlocal focus will also help the development of supportive networks, and raise awareness about available mental health resources in specific communities, including CDPH’s network of trauma-informed centers of care—a network of 38 mental health clinics working in communities of highest need across Chicago supported by an annual investment of approximately $8 million per year.

“At CHJS, we believe that the pathway to change is through healing,” said Pharlone Toussaint, Director of External Affairs at The Center for Healing and Justice through Sport. “For generations, children and families across the city have endured epidemic levels of trauma, including those rooted in structural inequities. Through this partnership with the CSCC and CDPH, we believe we can begin the healing process not only through building individual resilience with these participants but also addressing the systems that cause the trauma in the first place. We are proud to be partnering with all of the community organizations and agencies joining us on this journey and honored to be a resource to them in their ongoing work.”

The first cohort launched in South Lawndale on May 17 and trainings will continue throughout the summer. Ten in-person training cohorts will be held within 15 priority communities.  Each cohort includes four 2-hour training sessions, held either Tuesday or Thursday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dates for the cohorts are:

  • South Lawndale (Spanish Accessible and at capacity) – May 17, May 24, June 7, June 14
  • West & East Garfield Park – May 26, June 2, June 9, June 16
  • Englewood & West Englewood – June 21, June 28, July 12, July 19
  • North Lawndale – June 23, June 30, July 14, July 21
  • Back of the Yards – June 21, June 28, July 12, July 19
  • Greater Grand Crossing & South Shore – June 23, June 30, July 14, July 21
  • Auburn Gresham – July 26, August 2, August 9, August 16
  • Chicago Lawn – July 28, August 4, August 11, August 18
  • Austin & West Humboldt Park – July 26, August 2, August 9, August 16
  • West Pullman & Roseland – July 28, August 4, August 11, August 18

Two virtual trainings options are also available for participants from any of the 15 communities of focus. This will include four 1.5-hour training sessions held on Wednesdays from 3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

  • June Virtual: June 1, June 8, June 15, June 22
  • July Virtual: TBA

To learn more about and sign up for the trauma-informed mental health skill-building trainings, visit

About the City of Chicago Community Safety Coordination Center
The City of Chicago Community Safety Coordination Center (CSCC) was established in August 2021, utilizing best practices learned from our citywide COVID-19 response. The CSCC works alongside City departments to address the root causes of violence in Chicago by examining trauma, lack of opportunity, and community blight. The CSCC’s goal is to implement targeted, people-based, place-based, and crisis response strategies to address the root causes of violence.

About The Center for Healing and Justice through Sport
As a national nonprofit organization, The Center for Healing and Justice through Sport (CHJS) works to ensure more people have access to sport experiences that are youth-centered, healing-centered, inclusive and that address issues of systemic injustice. CHJS has worked closely with the CSCC to tailor trainings to align with the CSCC’s violence reduction strategy.


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