2016 – Amanda Walsh

Amanda Walsh - Anderson award recipientAmanda Walsh, a 2015 graduate of Loyola University Chicago School of Law, already is making a huge impact in her legal career at the Legal Council for Health Justice. Bridging the social service and legal systems, Amanda established the first children’s behavioral health medical-legal partnership in Illinois with Mt. Sinai Hospital’s Under the Rainbow outpatient clinic, which serves low-income children and families with mental illness who live in some of the most violent neighborhoods in Chicago.

Amanda’s pursuit of social and health justice is driven by her personal experience growing up. Her parents’ struggles with mental illness led to Amanda entering the foster care system. She was placed in a stable home with her maternal grandmother while she watched her parents navigate broken and siloed mental health, social service, and justice systems. Amanda made it her life’s goal to protect and rebuild families in similar situations. Through her various work and personal experiences, Amanda discovered that medical-legal partnerships could improve the mental health of individuals as well as their family stability.

Within the first six weeks of her innovative project’s launch, Amanda received 19 referrals that turned into 32 individual clients and 51 individual cases. Amanda offers direct representation to both children and their family members, and provides training for the clinicians, their clients, and other community members in varying legal areas. Amanda has also been engaged in policy efforts to address the larger systemic barriers impacting this population. In Amanda’s words, “I am able to provide services to a population that would likely never use the legal system to stabilize their families or improve their mental health, and providing such services is a dream come true.”

Special thanks to Computing Source for this video.