What is Polaris: Polaris, or commonly referred to as the North Star, has been used for centuries to help people navigate a long and often difficult journey. Today young people face many challenges and stressors on their journey which can lead to serious mental health difficulties. One such challenge is living as a gender or sexual minority. Polaris is an 18 bed, acute care unit within Garfield Park Behavioral Hospital that provides a safe place where gender and sexual minority adolescents can receive affirming psychiatric care and help navigating their identity(s).
Polaris Mission Statement: To provide high quality, individually tailored and culturally-attuned psychiatric care to young people faced with challenges around their gender and/or sexual identity(s). Our approach is to support patients and families in achieving optimal psychological functioning by advocating for all individuals to be their authentic selves.
Polaris Vision: Every young person who is faced with challenges around their gender and/or sexual identity(s) will be given the most exceptional and affirming psychiatric care. Polaris will be a national center of excellence in providing psychiatric services for gender and sexual minority adolescents.
- Safety: Protecting the safety and health of our patients
- Respect: Treating all people with respect and dignity, including using a patient’s chosen name and pronouns
- Diversity: Creating an atmosphere of openness, trust, respect, and safety where diverse attitudes, beliefs, values, behaviors, and identities can be explored and discussed
- Service: Providing the highest quality psychiatric care
- Evidenced-based practice: Implementing the latest behavioral science research into clinical practice
Our Philosophy: Polaris uses a minority stress model as a framework to view psychological and emotional distress in gender and sexual minority adolescents. Not all behavioral and emotional issues in gender and sexual minority adolescents are a result of psychopathology, but rather as result of living with an oppressed identity(s). Our clinical programming helps to target minority stress by using a multidisciplinary team approach, which consists of psychiatry, social work, psychology, nursing, and other mental health professionals who are trained in providing affirming and culturally responsive mental health services for gender and sexual minority adolescents. Polaris provides the most effective, affirming, and most up to date evidence-based treatments for gender and sexual minority adolescents, including individual, family, and group based psychotherapy.
- Culturally-attuned assessments
- Affirming individual, group, and family psychotherapy
- Expressive and activity therapies
- Identity specific discharge recommendations
- Medication evaluation and management
- Individualized treatment planning and weekly multi-disciplinary staffings
- Fully accredited educational programming and coordination with schools
- 24-hour safety monitoring
- Parent/Caregiver education
To schedule a confidential intake assessment, please call 773-265-3720. We are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Don’t forget to mention you are interested in the Polaris program.
For more information on Polaris and for a list of LGBTQ knowledgeable and friendly providers and facilities, please contact, Kyle Bullock, MSW – Program Manager of LGBTQ Services – 773-265-4376 or [email protected]
Kyle Bullock (pronouns he/him/his) received his Masters of Social Work from the University of Chicago and has worked with LGBTQ young people in several capacities, including as a psychotherapist and author of a transgender student guidebook for educators in Long Beach, CA.
Community Advisory Board
The Polaris Community Advisory board (CAB) was created to provide a vehicle for effective community input regarding Polaris programming, best practices, future planning, and impact on the LGBTQ community. We are looking for champions, community leaders, and those who are passionate about LGBTQ adolescents and their communities. These champions must be willing to help us better meet the mental health care needs of LGBTQ adolescents and their communities. The board should be reasonably representative of the diverse needs and interests of the patients served by the hospital.
Board members will meet at regular intervals for at least one year and members should regularly attend the meetings of the advisory board. Meetings will be held once a month at our hospital.
Community Advisory Board Duties include:
- Establish and follow its own schedule and agenda
- Review the programming goals established by Polaris
- Advise Polaris on whether the programming/care and other significant policies are addressing the specialized therapeutic and cultural needs of LGBTQ patients
- The advisory board may make recommendations to Polaris to meet those specialized recommendations
- Choose additional topics to discuss
- Help to promote Polaris and GPBH within their professional circles
Benefits of Joining the CAB:
- Be a part of an innovative mental health program that has the opportunity of changing the lives of young LGBTQ people.
- Having a voice in how Garfield Park Behavioral Hospital will improve mental health care
- Get to know other mental health professionals in Chicago
- Provide insight to hospital staff of the unique needs of the LGBTQ community
Requirements to be a CAB Member:
- Attend at least 9 of the 12 CAB meetings each year
- Read information sent to the CAB to prepare for meetings
- Commit to serve on the board for at least one year
- Recruit and select potential board members
If you are interested in joining the Polaris CAB, please email Kyle Bullock, Program Manager of LGBTQ Services – [email protected].
We will take every step possible to represent the Polaris community with this advisory board. If there is a person(s) you think should be know about this CAB, please encourage them to email.
- According to US Health and Human Service’s Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP), LGBTQ health requires specific attention from health care and public health professionals to address a number of disparities, including:
- LGBT youth are 2 to 3 times more likely to attempt suicide
- LGBT youth are more likely to be homeless
- Lesbians are less likely to get preventive services for cancer
- Gay men are at higher risk of HIV and other STDs, especially among communities of color.
- Lesbians and bisexual females are more likely to be overweight or obese.
- Transgender individuals have a high prevalence of HIV/STDs, victimization, mental health issues, and suicide and are less likely to have health insurance than heterosexual or LGB individuals.
- Elderly LGBT individuals face additional barriers to health because of isolation and a lack of social services and culturally competent providers.
- LGBT populations have the highest rates of tobacco, alcohol, and other drug use.
Social determinants affecting the health of LGBT individuals largely relate to oppression and discrimination. Examples include:
- Legal discrimination in access to health insurance, employment, housing, marriage, adoption, and retirement benefits
- Lack of laws protecting against bullying in schools
- Lack of social programs targeted to and/or appropriate for LGBT youth, adults, and elders
- Shortage of health care providers who are knowledgeable and culturally competent in LGBT health