November Update – Community Wellness Task Force

The Community Wellness Task Force was established last year following the recent tragedies at the high school. The first meeting was held on March 5, 2012.  At that meeting, attended by approximately 14 school and community leaders, it was determined that the first course of action would be to do an assessment of the community mental health resources, which support our youth. It was also determined there was a need to find a professional(s) from outside our community to help.

On June 7th more than 70 community members participated in a daylong event to complete the assessment.  Dr. Darcy Hutchins, from Johns Hopkins University, was the facilitator.  Additionally, Dr. Mark Reinecke, from Northwestern University Feingberg School of Medicine, a national expert on depression and suicide, became a consultant to the task force and provided a presentation on current best practices. Our community members gained a better understanding of what our community was facing and what we currently had to offer.  The event was co-funded by the City of Lake Forest, the Village of Lake Bluff and Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital.

Following the June 7th meeting Dr. Reinecke synthesized all he learned about the community and our organizations and came up with very specific recommendations based on the best and most promising practices in the field of suicide treatment and prevention.  He shared his recommendations to a group of about 18 members of the task force on September 14, 2012.  The recommendations are based on 3 types of prevention; primary – for the general population, secondary – for select, high-risk groups, and tertiary – for those in need of immediate help.

If you or someone you know are in immediate danger, call 911.
You may also contact the following organizations for assistance:

National Suicide Hotline: 1.800.273.TALK (8255)

  Lake County Crisis Center: 847.377.8088   

Dr. Reinecke suggests that we start with the most immediate needs first and work our way backwards to primary prevention strategies.  The recommendations were broken down by what the various organizations could provide, such as the hospital, the schools, community organizations and parents.


  • Has created a clinical advisory board of mental health professionals.
  • Has created a Panic link on their website that directs those that call to local resources.
  • Is providing Dr. Meg Meeker, nationally recognized pediatrician, for a community presentation in October 2012.
  • Was a partner with Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital to provide a Middle School Youth Summit in September 2012.
  • Hosted the first annual Taste of Wellness Fair in November 2012.

Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital

In addition to providing the support of Dr. Reinecke:

  • Hospital leaders are responsible for mobilizing pediatricians associated with the hospital in the hopes of having every pediatrician do a quick depression screening for all adolescents at their annual physicals.  Many have already adopted the screening tool and many more are considering this as part of their routine.
  • Depression screening for patients in the emergency room is currently in place for adults and the logistics of screening all 12-18 year olds is also under discussion.
  • The hospital is actively seeking partnerships to provide mental health services to our community. 

Lake Forest High School

  • Is expanding training for all health teachers and social workers trained by Dr. Karen Swartz of Johns Hopkins University on the ADAP – Adolescent Depression Awareness Program.
  • A group of faculty and students participated in Walk out of the Darkness in September 2012.
  • All staff will complete a “signs and symptoms of depression” training. 


  • A Peer Training program for student groups has been revised and 6 new classes are currently being co-taught by CROYA and LFHS Staff.
  • The partnership with The Child, Adolescent and Family Development Center, LLC (CAFDC / CAFRC) continues to offer counseling and the Re:Group program for substance abuse.
  • Family Service obtained 2 grants that will provide 5 hours per week of youth and family counseling at CROYA, at no charge to the families.
  • There will be increased training for all adult chaperones who participate in student retreats, that will include risk assessment for depression and suicide.

LB District 65 PTO and LF District 67 APT

  • Have both chosen “Community” as a yearly theme. 

Lake Forest and Lake Bluff Police Departments

  • Have created a Crisis Communication Hub to notify community leaders of any crisis that might impact the community.

 Lake Forest College

  • Has agreed to assemble private mental health providers to review mental health assessments and treatments recommended by Dr. Reinecke.

Additionally, a press release to highlight accomplishments is underway and methods to communicate quarterly with community members are in the planning stages. The tragic circumstances have provided an opportunity for our community partners to work together to accomplish a goal that is vitally important and only possible through a partnership.

For more information, contact [email protected].