On The Table 2018
March 22, 2018

On The Table 2018 is platform developed by The Chicago Community Trust to engage residents in small conversations that build relationships and encourage action to benefit the public good. The Kennedy Forum uses this platform to engage thousands of people in conversations (ideally in small groups of about 8-12 people) about mental health and addiction in their community, workplace or home. The annual initiative combats stigma, generates new ideas and encourage action. Last year we generated more than 250  conversations across the state, and we hope you will join us this year.


When: May 8, 2018 – or anytime you can gather.  Note: May is Mental Health Month, and On the Table is a terrific opportunity to build on this nationwide awareness campaign!

Where: Work, school, church, home – anywhere you like.

Toolkits: Click here for work-sheets to help you host a conversation.  Mental Health America also has developed good resources around Mental Health Month.

Here are some outcomes from On The Table 2017:

  • Reach:
    • In 2017, we supported 250+ conversations, reaching more than 3,000 people in six different states, 25 cities, and 65 zip codes. Conversations took place in diverse settings, including 15 workplaces, 20 places of worship, 3 by law enforcement, over 30 on Chicago’s west/south side and Uptown, and more than 10 conversations in schools.

    Examples of Conversations:

    • A group of 15 professionals in DuPage County discussed Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. The group included the State’s Attorney, the Public Defender, psychologists, a registered nurse, NAMI DuPage, a Deputy Police Chief, probation officers and a juvenile court judge. They agreed to develop an educational pamphlet to be made available at all points of contact. The group agreed to meet again in September to report on progress and decide next steps.
    • A Peoria Healthcare Coalition brought together 44 people. Following the conversation, the group agreed to send a letter to the editor of the Peoria Journal Star. The group also garnered news coverage from City Council TV and 106.3 WPNV.
    • A group of lawmakers gathered in Springfield, led by members of the General Assembly’s Mental Health Committee. The group gathered and discussed important issues and possible solutions to eliminating stigma and enforcing parity laws in the State of Illinois.
    • View pictures from On The Table 2017.

Why Participate

Studies show the best way to eliminate stigma is to talk about experiences face-to-face. In 2017, nearly 80{c48ccdf3c73afb47c94c61fa7aae86e62bfbb2e57db984400d0c5994c9d92c5c} of conversations hosted by The Kennedy Forum included someone with mental health or addiction experience. People walk away from these conversations energized to do more. 98{c48ccdf3c73afb47c94c61fa7aae86e62bfbb2e57db984400d0c5994c9d92c5c} of participants recommend this conversation to friends and colleagues and 94{c48ccdf3c73afb47c94c61fa7aae86e62bfbb2e57db984400d0c5994c9d92c5c} of participants are likely to take action as a result of this conversation. A quote from an individual who participated last year:

“During and after the event, I felt incredibly humbled by people’s stories and input as well as energized and motivated to put forth continual efforts on combating stigma against mental health and addiction.  I have been in the mental health field for over 2 decades – both as a consumer and provider – and I can tell you yesterday’s experience was unlike any others for me.” – OTT 2017 Participant

Action Steps: After the Conversation

All those who have registered as a host will receive an email with a brief survey. We use this survey to capture the feelings and solutions people uncovered through the course of their conversation. Additionally, we will deliver resources and simple steps people can take to eliminate stigma. Finally, The Chicago Community Trust will once again be awarding small grants through its Acting Up Awards this year to help implement actionable solutions created through their On the Table conversation. More details will be available soon. Click to view winning submissions from 2017.

Get Involved Today

Register here. Or call or email James Burns at 312-450-3456 or James@TheKennedyForum.org to learn how to get involved.

More Resources & Information

Below you may download more information to help you get started. Including:

  • One-page toolkits to help you host your conversation: Click here to view.
  • Frequently asked questions
  • Social media graphics to share publicly


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