The Balance Project fills an important need, to help you and/or those you love find and access support and resources needed to build a better balance around mental health and wellness.
The Balance Project is here to support mental and emotional wellness for you and those you love by offering the following services:
Educational programming to raise awareness and understanding of mental health needs
Support in identifying and accessing resources and treatment
Financial assistance to those in need
Our Vision and Impact
We aim to serve as a resource to those seeking emotional health and wellness support.
Did you know…
In Northshore School District 112, 25.1% of the students are low income. We estimate that more than one million adults in Illinois experienced serious psychological distress in the past 12 months. 1,066,913 (in IL 2016)
Illinois’ state mental health agency spends a very low per capita amount on mental health services, compared to the rest of the U.S. IL – $75 per capita vs. US Average – $129 per capita
More than a quarter of adults who experienced serious psychological distress in the previous year in the U.S. reported an unmet need for mental health care. Almost half of the people with a perceived unmet need reported that they did not receive treatment because they could not afford it.
Youth mental health is worsening. Rates of youth depression increased from 8.5% in 2011 to 11.1% in 2014. Even with severe depression, 80% of youth are left with no or insufficient treatment
1 in 5 Adults have a mental health condition. That’s over 40 million Americans; more than the populations of New York and Florida combined
Most Americans still lack access to care. 56% of American adults with a mental illness did not receive treatment.
Our work is guided by these core values:
We work to understand the issues affecting our communities and work collaboratively with partners to develop meaningful programming supporting the needs of local families and individuals.
We identify trusted mental health professionals who share in The Balance Project mission and can provide support services to participants.
We value the importance of respecting every individual by embracing differences and delivering respect to all.
We believe in equitable access to care and work to eliminate barriers to support services.
Our founder, Agi Semrad, had a goal of creating a nonprofit organization focused on bridging the gap to accessing mental health support services to the community. With a background in Education and a Masters in Community Counseling she became aware of
the disparity of support resources and wanted to meet that need. She is passionate about equality, mental health, child development, and the overall well-being of children and families. Agi tries to maintain balance and well-being by focusing
on the activities and work that are meaningful to her as wel as spending quality time with those she loves, and leaning on healthy relationships and professional guidance to provide support and reassurance.
Jody Schrimmer has been an educator for 13 years, but has been an advocate for various marginalized groups from when she was a teenager. Jody started her professional career working in NYC for Agenda for Children Tomorrow, a children’s advocacy group
in she has been researching race, equity, and how one’s racial identity impacts their academic career for my Ph.D. In the midst of doing that research, she has also been a mentor to several teenagers who are the first generation to college
through the Schuler Foundation. She helps to guide them through their first two years of college to ensure that they graduate. Jody currently works at Evanston Township High School as an English teacher and runs college counseling workshops
in the summer. In addition to her career and volunteer interests, Jody’s family and faith are very important to her. Through it all, Jody has learned the importance of mental health and having access to the necessary support systems.A
Stefanie Bell is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who feels passionate that balance is an integral part of achieving emotional wellness. For the past 20 years she has provided advocacy and clinical interventions in hospital settings, high schools and
more recently in private practice. Through her work, she has witnessed the gaps of services, education and support that could impact the well being of individuals and entire communities. She connected with the mission of the Balance Project
for that reason. Stefanie holds a BA in Psychology from Emory University, a Masters in Psychology from Boston University and a Masters in Social Work from University of Chicago. Her balance is finding the perfect mix of work, exploration,
quality time with her husband, kids and friends, walking her dogs, fitness, racket sports and just a little bit of quiet time everyday.
Jesse Lewin developed a passion for the education, wellbeing and development of children during his eight years working at a summer camp and then as a fourth grade teacher. His background is in international studies and Latin American literature. He tries
to maintain balance by spending time outside, running and leaning on inspirational mentors.
Caitlin O’Grady is passionate about challenging structural inequities. She strongly believes that all individuals, regardless of income and insurance status, should have access to the necessary resources to promote their emotional wellness. Caitlin is
committed to research focused on facilitating access to free, long-term culturally appropriate mental health services among underserved populations. Caitlin is a licensed clinical social worker and holds a PhD in Social Work from the Jane
Addams College of Social Work, at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She finds balance through engaging in fulfilling work and surrounding herself with supportive family and friends who inspire her to advocate for change.
David Kepley understands that mental health is a difficult thing to balance within our fast-paced world. People's desire to be everything to everybody or simply just not feeling up to par with those around us can distract us from the blessings that are
all around us. David sees The Balance Project as a means of reaching out to those having trouble seeing those blessings through the obstacles of life to give them resources to find their way back into balance. David has been in a wide
variety of industries including FinTech, entertainment, and medical. He started the Dallas Dads Group for fathers wanting to socialize with other fathers and their children. He helped to build the library of the Christian Leadership Institute
of Rwanda (CLIR) and volunteers with Feed My Starving Children, P.A.D.S, and Helping Hands. David holds a B.S. from Illinois State University. He has been married for fifteen years, and is a father to two grade school boys. Maintaining
his own mental health is always at his best when he is praying and serving others.
Help us help others by supporting The Balance