The back room of Envision Unlimited’s Rose Center, in Back of the Yards, is piled to the proverbial ceiling with arts and crafts materials: boxes of old lace, a package of sequined hats, a children’s doll whose head had, at some point in its transport, become decapitated from its body. Sorting through it all is Monika Neuland, a social practice artist, educator, and consultant who works with agencies that provide services for those with physical and developmental disabilities. Envision Unlimited, the organization which owns the Rose Center, is one of these. The arts supplies are a donation that will help sustain the various arts programs that Neuland leads around the Chicago area, including the mask-making workshop taking place here in the Rose Center.
When individuals with mental illness live in underserved communities, without adequate mental health care, they often seek antidotes elsewhere: Many try to self-medicate with alcohol or illegal substances. Some resort to retail theft or other petty crimes to get by. For others, a mental health crisis may escalate to a point where they become a threat to themselves or others.