I chose to make my final portfolio’s main theme be on the inaccessibility of mental health treatment in Illinois because it’s a social issue incredibly relevant to the time we’re living in now that affects millions of Illinoisans, especially those in rural areas. I am also personally invested in this topic, as the lack of options and availability of mental health treatment in rural areas such as the county I live in has deeply impacted my life.

Because the inaccessibility of mental health treatment in Illinois is such a huge topic that affects many other different issues such as prison reform, homelessness, substance abuse, and more, I decided to narrow my subject down to inpatient treatment centers.


I chose to make a website both as a text artifact and as a way to present my two other text artifacts and associated bibliography. After doing some preliminary research and speaking with a friend who works in the mental health field, I found that there isn’t much a layperson such as myself, or even a mental health professional like my friend, can do to change the current mental health crisis affecting Illinois, since the root of the problem is lack of funding and state budget.

However, one thing I and others can do is raise awareness. More people need to become aware that many of the problems Illinoisans face daily such as substance abuse, homelessness, prison, and more have root causes in the lack of mental health funding in Illinois. If they have this knowledge, they will be able to make informed decisions when voting and electing local politicians and officials, and be an advocate for themselves and others who require mental health treatment.

Websites and other visual mediums are wonderful ways to raise awareness, because they’re easy to access and navigate. Additionally, it’s a great way to present information in a compact and organized manner. Therefore, I decided to create a simple website on which I could host my other text artifacts and references used, in the hopes that it would help to raise awareness about the issue in a more comprehensive way than the blog I used for the other portfolios and text artifacts. I used the free website-building platform Neocities to create my website using HTML and CSS code. I created the hero image (the banner above the navigation bar) using MS Paint.

A website such as the one I made uses visual, spatial, and linguistic modes in its design. The visual component is obvious, as is the linguistic component: colors, images, and words are the basic building blocks of any website. However, the spatial mode is also incredibly important: how the words and images are spaced drastically changes how a website is perceived and navigated. Using a website to present my other text artifacts allowed me to present them in a more visually interesting and stimulating way than simply putting them in an essay and offered a method of “framing” them in the context of something larger.

Usually when I create websites or webpages I do so recreationally, and aim to make them as annoyingly attention-grabbing and flashy as possible, using sparkling gifs, moving backgrounds, brightly colored text, and more. An example of this is my first composing with the mode project, in which I created a Geocities-esque webpage. For this project, I chose to not tread that path and made my website as professional and academic as I could make it, given the affordances and constraints of the Neocities website builder and my own coding knowledge.

I want visitors to my site to take the subject matter and content provided on my website seriously, and having flashing gifs would not achieve that goal. Therefore, my website is rather austere in its design, although I did attempt to make it somewhat visually stimulating with a palette of contrasting blue and orange colors.


As stated above, my goal for this project was to raise awareness on the mental health crisis currently affecting Illinois. With a title like “Mental Health Crisis in Illinois,” upon first impression my topic seems rather dry and boring, so I needed to find a way to interest readers while still providing useful information. I thought a good way to present information in a visually appealing way would be an infographic. Infographics are educational while still capturing attention in a way that simply listing bullet points or making PowerPoint Presentations aren’t.

Combining the visual, linguistic, and spatial modes once again, I created a brightly colored infographic using Canva, which I learned how to use in one of the Media Literacy Workshops from class. I first did research on my topic, accessing news articles, reports by governmental agencies, and academic journal articles, and compiled my notes into a Google Doc. I then pruned my notes, editing three pages of notes into a single page of what I believed were the most important points.

Editing further, I revised the notes into a series of bullet points, separated into three sections. The first section, as can be seen in the infographic, tells how many people in Illinois require mental health treatment vs. the amount of people who actually receive such treatment. The second section introduces the term “shortage area” and discusses how the majority of counties in Illinois are shortage areas. The third and final section brings up the financial aspect to the crisis, describing how expensive mental health treatment is, and how lack of adequate money and/or providers that accept Medicaid creates further barriers for citizens seeking mental health treatment.

I am really pleased with the end result of my infographic, and plan to try and spread it outside just my website. My goal for this infographic is for it to reach audiences outside of just my classmates or my professor, but for it to hopefully reach someone who had no prior knowledge of the extent of the mental health crisis in Illinois. I posted it on my social media accounts and also sent it to a couple friends.


Because my main goal for this website and project overall is to raise awareness about the inaccessibility of mental health treatment in Illinois, I wanted to focus on creating eye-catching, visually appealing methods of conveying information about my topic for my text artifacts. Therefore, for my third text artifact, in which I wanted to depict the extreme lack of access to mental health treatment in rural counties such as Champaign County, I created a map showing all of the inpatient mental health treatment centers in Illinois, utilizing the visual and spatial modes.

When one looks at a written list in the linguistic mode of all the inpatient health treatment centers in Illinois, it seems like quite a substantial list: 70 total centers. However, when placed on a map, it quickly becomes visible that the overwhelming majority of these centers are located in Chicago, and the rest of Illinois, which is largely rural, is left to suffer with only one or two inpatient treatment centers covering several counties at once.

For example, in Champaign County, there are two inpatient mental health treatment centers, with only one also serving youth. However, these treatment centers not only account for the population of Champaign and Urbana, but also the surrounding towns within a 45 minute radius, such as Arcola, Tuscola, Monticello, White Heath, Savoy, and more. When discussing my topic with my friend who is a mental health professional, I asked her if, in her professional opinion, these two inpatient treatment centers were enough to cover the demand of Champaign County and the surrounding areas, and she told me that they are woefully inadequate.

To create the map, I used the SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator website from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This website allows one to search for all the mental health treatment centers in a certain area, such as a state, county, or even zip code. It also allows one to narrow the search to what type of treatment center they are looking for, for example inpatient, substance abuse, one that accepts Medicaid, one that has a youth facility, etc. The search results are presented in list and map format.

I searched for mental health inpatient treatment centers in Illinois, and then copied the name and address of each center into Google Maps and saved it to a list titled “Inpatient Mental Health Treatment Center.” I then took a screenshot of the final map on Google Images, with all the inpatient treatment centers clearly pinned in light blue, and made the list public to anyone with the link. When I uploaded the image onto my website, I made it so that if one clicked the image, they would be redirected to the list, and would be able to scroll through the pinned inpatient treatment centers. In this way, it could also potentially assist someone in locating an inpatient treatment center near them.

My hope for this text artifact is that it helps viewers to understand just how little options there are for people in rural counties who require mental health treatment. Utilizing the spatial and visual mode to demonstrate the sheer sparsity of inpatient treatment centers in Illinois makes the information instantly understandable in a way that simply writing the numbers down in the linguistic mode doesn’t.

Additionally, my map is interactive, and viewers can zoom in or out, and locate the nearest inpatient treatment center near them. This allows for viewers in different regions of Illinois to have different reactions to the map: for example, someone living in Chicago might be able to find the nearest inpatient treatment center is only four blocks away from them, whereas someone living in McLean would see that the nearest inpatient treatment center is forty-five minutes away.