The long-dormant Forest Park Board of Health is ready to go – just in time for the village’s first Mental Health Fair

The Forest Park Village Council voted unanimously on April 24 to appoint five members, all of whom have some experience in either health in general or mental health treatment specifically. Karen Considine, Susan Buss and Leah Shapiro have decades of experience in social work and therapy, treating some of the most vulnerable members of society. Mishawn Pumell-O’Neal has over a decade of experience in teaching about health, while Lindsey Baish-Flynn is a marketing processional who is currently working on becoming a therapist. 

The Forest Park Board of Health was originally established in 2002, but it became inactive over time. The health board was already on the books, and the village decided to resurrect it, while changing its mission. 

Under the changes approved during a Feb. 27 meeting, the Board of Health’s mission became advising the village council on “matters pertaining to the public health of the village, including but not limited to mental and physical health.” It explicitly required the commission to meet once a month. The five nominees must be Forest Parkers, and they will serve for five-year terms. 

Considine is a social worker who currently has a private practice supervising social worker candidates as they take the clinical hours they need in order to get a license. Her resume shows extensive social work experience in western Cook and DuPage counties. Most notably, she headed DuPage County18th Judicial Circuit Court’s Mental Illness Court Alternative Program, which allowed people who were charged with crimes and dealt with mental health issues to avoid criminal sentences by going through treatment. 

In a letter included in her application, Considine wrote that, as a Forest Park resident since 1985, she believed that the board could be an important resource.

“I believe that my experience working in the criminal justice system in programs designed toward improving how that system responds to and works with persons with mental illness could also be an asset to the Village Board of Health,” she wrote.

Buss is a social worker and a therapist who mostly worked in Chicago and west suburban Cook County. She currently heads the Oak Park-based Big Sky Consulting therapy practice. She is also a regular contributor to Forest Park’s Invasion of the Scarecrows event. 

While the other resumes were not quite as long, the remaining appointees still bring a wealth of experience to the board. Shapiro is a mental health advocate, educator and a therapist who specialized in children’s mental health. Purnell-O’Neal is a health and nutrition educator who currently works as a senior lecturer at Benedictine University in Lisle, Baish-Flynn spent much of her career in marketing, but she is currently in the process of getting a professional councilor license. 

During the April 24 meeting, Maxham said that she was glad to see the board come together.

“I just want to thank you and other people that applied, and I’m thrilled that this is happening,” she said.