Former Bears quarterback and Super Bowl XX champion Jim McMahon has been open about his struggles with depression and early onset dementia since his playing days.
That’s why he agreed to be the keynote speaker at the grand opening of the Silver Oaks Behavioral Hospital on Thursday in New Lenox.
McMahon spoke about his use of painkillers during his career and admitted, while they helped after bruising games under center, he couldn’t even remember half of his career.
He said he struggled just going through life before his diagnosis.
“I was more like a vegetable most of the time,” McMahon said. “I was laying down in my room for weeks at a time. I couldn’t really function.”
That’s why he stressed the importance of the new facility opening – to provide behavioral health care and addiction treatment to the residents of Will County.
The facility sits on the campus of Silver Cross Hospital, which jointly runs Silver Oaks with U.S. HealthVest, a behavioral health care services provider. It will provide 100 new beds for patients.
Scott Hullinger, CEO of Silver Oaks, talked at the grand opening about how more than 1,000 people in Illinois die by suicide every year.
For every adult who dies by suicide, there are an estimated 25 more attempts.
Hullinger said the hospital will offer inpatient and intensive outpatient programs and mental health assessments 24 hours a day, seven days a week at no charge.
Experts such as Kathleen Burke, the director of substance use initiatives with the Will County Executive’s Office, have emphasized the need for behavioral health services, especially for those struggling with addiction.
“This is outstanding,” Burke said. “This increases the capacity for us to take care of our Will County citizens, and we have nothing like it in the area.”
New Lenox Mayor Tim Baldermann talked about how important Silver Cross Hospital has been as a community partner to New Lenox and Will County. He said it is “wonderful” that those in need locally can stay close to home while being able to access behavioral health care services.
He also said some public officials might be hesitant to admit that there are people in their community who struggle with mental health or addiction problems.
“That’s a fact of life everywhere, no matter where you live,” Baldermann said. “In this community, we are proud to say that we tackle those issues head on.”