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More than 1,200 individuals afforded free therapy through the Bette D. Harris Family & Child Clinic

CHICAGO – September 2023 – The Family Institute at Northwestern University joins the global initiative to commemorate World Mental Health Day on October 10, 2023, and the theme of this year’s World Mental Health Day is “mental health is a universal human right.”  

According to the 2023 State of Mental Health in America report, there are an estimated 350 individuals for every one mental health provider in the United States; on a local level, 25.9% of adults in Illinois with a mental illness reported that they were not able to receive the treatment they needed. The Family Institute affirms their belief that access to quality mental health services is a fundamental right for all individuals and families. Through the Bette D. Harris Family & Child Clinic, they provide free therapy services to those that qualify that could not otherwise afford mental health care. Staffed by 120 graduate level therapists-in-training and supervised by highly trained licensed therapists, clients can gain the support needed to reduce distress and improve relationships.  

"Equitable mental healthcare continues to be an important need in Illinois, and we are proud to continue to be a resource in the community," says Puja Shah, M.A., LCPC, Director of the Bette D. Harris Family & Child Clinic & Community Programs. "It is through the dedication of our therapists-in-training and our staff therapist supervisors that we've been able to provide therapy services at no cost for over 1,200 qualifying clients in the last fiscal year alone." 

Additionally, The Family Institute operates two programs within the Clinic called the Community Program and Project Strengthen. The Community Program partners with a variety of community organizations and schools to best serve the needs of the Evanston community. Last year, 28 students were under the supervision of four staff therapists and two consultant supervisors as they worked with 84 clients to provide therapy in clients’ homes, classrooms or other non-traditional therapy settings. Project Strengthen delivers high-quality care to individuals and families who suffer from complex mental health issues alongside socioeconomic hardship. Most families served by Project Strengthen are below the federal poverty line and nearly 80% are at high risk for suicidal and/or homicidal thoughts and extreme violence. Last year, The Family Institute served 18 clients with 25 staff therapists and 36 therapists-in-training.  

In addition to its day-to-day programming, The Family Institute will also support the mental health needs of their community this Fall through psychoeducational events and resources. These events include: 

  • Inner Healing Through Grief and Loss Webinar: Wednesday, October 11 at 12:00 p.m. CT.  
    • During this 1-hour event, mental health experts will provide invaluable insights and strategies for navigating the complex emotions that accompany loss.  
  • Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Series starting October 8:  
    • Staff Therapist and Certified Teacher of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Karla Hargrove, M.A., LPC, will host an 8-week MBSR series starting on October 3. During the course, Ms. Hargrove will teach mindfulness-based skills that can change individual’s relationship with your thoughts, feelings, and pain.  

  • Narcissistic Personality Series:  
    • Melissa Prusko, Psy.D. will share a series of articles on Narcissistic Personality Disorder throughout the Fall to highlight how destabilizing relationships with narcissists can be and normalize the difficulty many go on to experience once these relationships end and healing begins. 

Through a dedicated staff of clinicians, psychoeducational events and access to their Library and Resources page, The Family Institute is proud to continue to be a resource on World Mental Health Day and beyond. 

Media Contact: Crystal Reynolds, Director of Marketing,   


Incorporated in 1969, The Family Institute at Northwestern University is committed to strengthening and healing families, couples, children and adults through the highest quality, relationship-based mental health services. As partners to see change, The Family Institute brings together research, education and clinical practice leading to growth for our clients, the next generation of therapists and the field of behavioral health.   

The Family Institute conducts cutting-edge research to better understand mental health issues and treatment, operating two nationally renowned graduate programs through the Center for Applied Psychological and Family Studies at Northwestern University in Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy. For more information, visit