THE MOBILE MENTAL HEALTH BUS TOUR

Research has consistently shown that essential workers, who are disproportionately members of minority communities, are experiencing adverse emotional effects from the COVID-19 pandemic. Minorities are already more likely than their white counterparts to face challenges in accessing mental health care; the stigma surrounding mental health issues, along with a deep-seated distrust of health care providers in some minority communities and a limited number of minority clinicians, only add to access challenges.

The Minority Psychology Network’s (MPN) mobile mental health unit will address both of these challenges. It will bring culturally competent behavioral health care providers directly into underserved neighborhoods with high concentrations of essential workers. The bus will have services including limited talk therapy, screenings, and stress management workshops; it is not designed as a replacement for traditional behavioral health services, but rather as a way to start the conversation. Workers staffing the bus will play a liaison role—helping people become aware of the existence of mental health services, and helping them navigate the system. Another important component of this is our mobile app. People can use it to track the bus, but perhaps more importantly to be connected with and referred to a network of minority mental health providers and services, helping ensure continuity of care. Patients will be connected to a network of minority mental health providers who understand their culture and lived experience.

Research has consistently shown that essential workers, who are disproportionately members of minority communities, are experiencing adverse emotional effects from the COVID-19 pandemic. Minorities are already more likely than their white counterparts to face challenges in accessing mental health care; the stigma surrounding mental health issues, along with a deep-seated distrust of health care providers in some minority communities and a limited number of minority clinicians, only add to access challenges.

The Minority Psychology Network’s (MPN) mobile mental health unit will address both of these challenges. It will bring culturally competent behavioral health care providers directly into underserved neighborhoods with high concentrations of essential workers. The bus will have services including limited talk therapy, screenings, and stress management workshops; it is not designed as a replacement for traditional behavioral health services, but rather as a way to start the conversation. Workers staffing the bus will play a liaison role—helping people become aware of the existence of mental health services, and helping them navigate the system. Another important component of this is our mobile app. People can use it to track the bus, but perhaps more importantly to be connected with and referred to a network of minority mental health providers and services, helping ensure continuity of care. Patients will be connected to a network of minority mental health providers who understand their culture and lived experience.

We believe that this project will have an impact in the near and long term. More immediately, the bus will start the conversation; essential workers will be connected with services, and educated about their availability. They will develop resilience, and perform better at their jobs. On a broader level, this will work toward MPN’s goal of increasing access to culturally competent behavioral health services, reducing the stigma surrounding mental health in minority communities, and encouraging more minorities to enter the field.