Joliet fire chief promotes city’s free mental health services for all ages

The program is open to all Joliet residents, including children and adults

Fire Chief Jeff Carey speaks at the Crisis First Aid refresher course for the Joliet Fire Department Station One crew on Wednesday, July 12th, 2023 in Joliet.

Joliet residents struggling with their mental health should know free services are available.

The city of Joliet has partnered with Thriveworks to make sure Joliet residents get the counseling and psychiatric services they need at no cost to them, Joliet Fire Department Chief Jeff Carey said.

However, many residents aren’t aware of the program – or how easy it is to access, Carey said. That’s why Joliet has information posted on electronic signs around town, now through January, so people know how to access the services, Carey said.

“We know that the holidays aren’t a great time for a lot of people,” he said. “[It can be] a depressing time.”

When residents call, they will receive an appointment within 24 to 48 hours – or even the same day, “which is unheard” for most people trying to access mental health services, Carey said.

Residents can schedule in-person or virtual appointments – although 85% of the time people choose virtual visits to fit their schedules, Carey said.

In most cases, people will stay with the same counselor, too, he said.

“Obviously, if there is an issue, you can change,” Carey said.

A Mental Health advertisement for free help is visible along Route 59 in Joliet on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2023.

Services are free and will continue to be free in 2024, too. People can use the service as often as needed.

“The average person uses eight sessions,” Carey said. “But some people need more, some need less. Some might need to see a therapist two or three times a week for the first two or three weeks. After that, they might only see the therapist once a month or every three months as an issue occurs.”

It’s important that people experiencing a crisis get immediate help – and as much help as they need, Carey said.

We know that the holidays aren’t a great time for a lot of people. [It can be] a depressing time.”

—   Jeff Carey, Joliet Fire Department chief

“Once the crisis is over, they can go back as needed,” Carey said.

The program is open to all Joliet residents, including children and adults.

“We have people age 3 to 85 in the program,” Carey said.

Carey said the Thriveworks office at 1051 Essington Road has a special area where children ages 5 to 12 can receive play therapy.

“It’s the first of its kind in the nation,” Carey said.

Since the program began in July 2022, about 1,200 residents have accessed 7,000 counseling sessions.

“But the biggest number is that we witnessed a drop in our calls for mental health,” Carey said. “In this year, we had a 52% drop in suicides in Joliet.”

Several local townships also have funding for this program. Township residents should call the Joliet Fire Department for more information, he said.

“We’ll know by their address where they should go,” Carey said.

How to access Joliet’s free mental health services

1. Call 815-511-0149 or visit

2. If you have insurance, provide your name, health insurance information and your Joliet water bill account number. The Joliet Fire Department can issue a voucher number for anyone without a water bill.

3. If you don’t have insurance, call and tell the operator you are a Joliet resident. Provide your water bill account number or a voucher number. Vouchers are available by calling 815-724-3500 or emailing

4. If needed, supplement financial assistance is available for Joliet residents.

5. For information, visit