Welcome to our “ask the expert” blog where we will feature answers to your questions from our pool of community experts.

We are fortunate to have experts from the Barrington Police Department, Lake County States Attorney’s office, Therapists, Mental Health Treatment Programs, Housing, Employment and more.

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A joint program of NAMI-Barrington Area and Barrington Area Library When a friend or family member is struggling mentally or emotionally, what should you say or do? When is professional help indicated, and what should you expect when you reach out? A panel of local experts, including first responders, mental health clinicians, and representatives of the court system, present information, share insights, and take questions.

Simply click on the question to view the answer:


What services for mental health issues would you like to see provided by the community churches? Service organizations?
Educational topics always serve well. Also, having lay counselors who know the community resources may be important for their congregations and their communities. Supports for families that are trying to support a loved one with mental health issues. Last, they can talk about mental health from the pulpit to help real the stigma.

I would like to get help for a loved one who cannot afford insurance but is not eligible for aid and desperately needs help. The have alcoholism and depression.
Alcohol is a depressant and will further exacerbate depression. It can also increase someone’s potential to act radically under the influence. Community resources are your best option. Some townships will have free services for those that live in that zip code. Others will have funding available to assist. Also, some churches will have donations to assist or might have even a lay minister available for support. Checking what is available in your community is important. Start with the township, the village, the city. Usually one thing leads to another. Otherwise, calling counseling centers and seeing if they have sliding scale and how low they are able to go. Sometimes students under supervision are able to provide low fee counseling.

How do you recommend helping someone who is not suicidal but is very disorganized in thought, paranoid, or psychotic?
The most important factor here is to get the person on medication. That is the primary way that the thinking will improve. It can be hard to convince someone, but even getting them to a community based clinic can help. Do not argue regarding their thought process. Try to “join their world” and find a way within that to motivate them toward the end goal. In the meantime, getting support for yourself is important. Dealing with someone who is paranoid can be exhausting.

If my family member was arrested and the case dismissed, can the mug shot be removed and not impact a background check?
This ultimately would be a question for an attorney, but if they were a juvenile at the time of the arrest the answer is, yes. If they were an adult at the time of the arrest they would have to go through what is referred to as an “Expungement Process.” This is a court process that would require assistance from an attorney.

What can a social worker or police officer do to help an adult living with mental illness and lives alone but is in desperate need of help and will not communicate with family?
A great question, but one that is very hard to answer without specific details. Ultimately, it is hard for the police to do much for someone who does not want help and is still able to care for themselves. Mental illness oftentimes significantly debilitates someone, but they are still able to care for their basic needs, i.e. food, clothing and shelter. However, the police are able to witness things about a person who is mentally ill that can help us articulate to the courts that they are unable to care for themselves. This most often occurs during a well-being check. Say for instance you haven’t heard from your sister in several weeks, which is abnormal and she is known to suffer from mental illness. It then is very appropriate to contact the police department where she resides and request a well-being check on her. The police are then able to document a sound reason for contact with the person suffering from mental illness. The police department may also make observations that show the individual in need is no longer able to care for themselves. Action may then be taken to try and get them some help. Oftentimes, this is a long process, but you must try to have an officer work with them to get your family member the help they need.

We live in the suburbs and our son lives in Chicago. Is there a number to call if we don’t know his location and he calls us threatening suicide?
If he has a cell phone, the police can track the phone number to get his location. I would get the non emergency number for his zip code and keep that on file. You can also do the same with the fire department. Other than that, I would try to get your son some assistance in the city where he can call someone closer. There are many suicide hotlines where he can call to talk. Your hands are really limited, but at least he reaches out. That is hopeful.

How can I get potential bipolar 35-year old son to see doctor for therapy and medication? I am planning an intervention whereby he gets locked out of my house and makes the choice to A) Go to doctor of B) Become homeless. Will this approach be effective or will it cause further crisis? He is impossible to live with in my house during bipolar moods.
Always try to invite them first. You have to know your own limits and what you can and cannot live with. Having someone non compliant and non functional in your home is highly stressful. It is often a gamble if taking such a step would assist them in “waking up” and getting help or if they would just choose the lifestyle they are living in and go further down the scale. An intervention should always be done with professionals who will guide you with options. Making sure they have a place to go is important, even it if is a shelter. But giving the option of getting help and continuing to live there or going to Salvation Army or somewhere similar gives them some choice and gives you peace of mind. This is a very hard and difficult situation. You want to have is planned out well with guidance.

We live in the suburbs and our son lives in Chicago. Is there a number to call if we don’t know his location and he calls us threatening suicide?
This is another outstanding question. More than likely in this scenario, the local police department would first try to locate the individual in need. This is done by using cell towers to locate a general area of the cell phone and in all likelihood the location of the person threatening suicide. If that information then revealed that the person was in the city of Chicago, your local agency would then notify the proper jurisdiction to have them attempt to locate that subject. This scenario becomes more complicated if you were the one who received the threat. The police will be limited in this event because you must witness the suicidal statement in order to have them evaluated at a hospital in most cases.

Do all police departments have trained mental health officers?
One great way to find out if a particular department has any trained mental health officers is to call the non-emergency phone number during normal business hours and ask if they have any CIT or Crisis Intervention Team trained Officers. Officers who are CIT trained are also encouraged to wear a pin on their uniform that has the initials CIT on it with an image of the state of Illinois.

If my family member was arrested and the case dismissed, can the mug shot be removed and not impact a background check?
The short answer is: it depends, although expungement may be an option.

That is, in Illinois, when records are “expunged,” they are either physically destroyed or returned to the petitioner, with references to the underlying arrest and incident removed from public record. The law that explains the availability of this process is the Illinois Criminal Identification Act, which is a state statute identified as “20 ILCS 2630/5.2.”

If a person is arrested but the resulting criminal case is later dismissed, it is possible that the “mug shot”—and all other records that are created by law enforcement agencies and relating to the incident—may be expunged. This may also be an option if there is no actual charge filed following the arrest, if the person is acquitted of charges, if a conviction is vacated or overturned after an appeal, or if the person is found guilty but successfully completes a term of “supervision” or certain types of probation. [Please excuse the number of qualifying terms, like “may” and “certain types,” used in this answer, as the circumstances in which expungement is available are very case specific.]

In some instances an expungement may be an option immediately after a case is dismissed; in others, it may be available after a certain period of time, or not at all. To obtain an expungement, a petition must be filed in court. If one is granted, a judge enters an order directing the arresting agency and any other relevant agency to expunge the relevant records (such as a mug shot).

You are encouraged to seek the help of a private lawyer in seeking an expungement. Otherwise, for more information you may contact the Clerk of the 19th Judicial Circuit; in Lake County, the Circuit Clerk is the entity with which a petition for expungement may be filed. This office can be reached at 847-377-3600.

Legal Questions to the Lake County States Attorney’s office: The following is not legal advice, and does not create an attorney-client privilege. For legal assistance, you are encouraged to contact (a) the Lake County Bar Association for referral to attorneys-for-hire (lakecountylawyer.info), or for low income clients, (b) Prairie State Legal Services (847-662-6925).