A lot has happened since we posted our goals for the Mental Health Navigator about 5 months ago! Our goals then were to:
- Recruit and train web design, marketing, consultations (resource navigator), and data bank builder volunteers located around the world by the end of 2021;
- Update and expand the mental health resource lists available on our website to ensure that resources relevant for Effective Altruism community members associated with a variety of identities and backgrounds are provided;
- Update the website to make it easier for EA community members to quickly locate resources that could be helpful for their specific needs and locations;
- Market the Mental Health Navigator such that more EA community members around the world are aware of and can make use of the service.
We’ve met our goals (including recruiting and training 19 volunteers!), but there’s still work to be done to make sure the Mental Health Navigator is able to serve as many people in the community (and wider world) as effectively as possible. This post provides a progress report of what we’ve accomplished since November 30, 2021, and what we set out to accomplish before the end of 2022.
In this post we’ll cover our mental health resource data bank, documents and guides we are creating, news about our consultations service, our new social media pages, updates to our website, and our next steps.
Mental health resource data bank
One of the goals of the Mental Health Navigator between October 2021 and May 2022 was to create a mental health resource data bank that anyone could use to filter for mental health resources by location, type of resource, populations served, and issues addressed. This data bank is now in existence (available here!) and growing by the week. There are currently 100 resources available in the data bank, representing at least 15 countries and 47 languages.
And more are needed as we strive to provide something for everyone regardless of one’s location, native language, identity, or life experience. You can help us expand the data bank by making recommendations based on your own experiences. Just fill out this form, and then I or one of our navigator volunteers will review and add your resource to the data bank if it’s not already there.
We also need your help with expanding the community-recommended mental health providers table to include providers in locations outside of the US and UK! So if there are any coaches or therapists you particularly recommend, please fill out this form. Your recommendations will immediately appear on the website.
One unfortunate feature of both the data bank and the recommended providers table at the moment is that everything is only available in English. However, we plan on making the data bank available in other languages in the next few months. So when you fill out the form to add resources, please provide both the actual names and English names of the resources you add.
Documents and guides
In addition to the current general information available on the Mental Health Navigator website, we have also created and are working on completing our own set of guides to various mental health topics, which we see as collections of succinct and easily digestible pieces of information not currently collected in one place. Our latest piece is a list of sleep tips, available here.
There are currently two other documents in the works. The first is a document that provides quick summaries of various types of therapies, so that it is easier for those seeking therapy to understand what types of therapeutic methods exist. The second is a country-by-country guide to systems of mental health care access. We aim to have both completed and available on the Mental Health Navigator website by July 1st.
We're also working on expanding our list of crisis hotlines and integrating those with our mental health resources data bank.
Between October 2021 and now, we have helped 13 people through the Navigator Service (with all positive feedback so far). This is already half as many as many as the Navigator Service helped in the two preceding years. While it has been incredible to see people reaching out for support, this unfortunately reached a point that was not sustainable for one person alone. Through the volunteer drive in late 2021, the Mental Health Navigator recruited 6 volunteers to help with the Navigator Service. Each of these volunteers has now been trained in Mental Health First Aid, and they are excited to begin helping people navigate mental health resources. However, before they can begin helping, the Mental Health Navigator must first achieve two goals.
The first of these is that we need to finish transitioning to a new platform, so as to make sure the data of those who make use of our consultations service is protected and as secure as possible. Though we’re not providing mental health services themselves, it is still important that the Mental Health Navigator protects the information that is provided. The transition to this new platform involves making sure the Mental Health Navigator complies with all data protection laws in the world, which is a lengthy process. For this reason, the Navigator Service side of the Mental Health Navigator closed on February 9, 2022.
Secondly, we need to be registered as an NGO before the Navigator Service can re-open. The reason for this is, because the Mental Health Navigator is not presently registered as an organization, everything is in the project manager’s name. This means that, should anyone decide they’re not happy with any aspect of our service and decide they would like to pursue legal action, the project manager and volunteers are liable, and this is something we're not comfortable with. NGO status is also really important for the future funding and functioning of the Mental Health Navigator, and so gaining NGO status now is our primary goal.
Once we have fully completed transitioning to a new platform (we will specifically be using Cliniko in case anyone is interested in reading more about it) and have obtained NGO status, the Navigator Service side of the Mental Health Navigator will re-open. The current aim is to re-open by the start of autumn, though of course we will do so sooner if we can guarantee that we are providing secure services. We will announce on our website and social media pages once we have re-opened for consultations, and we will email everyone who has signed up to receive a notification of when we are open for appointments again.
Marketing the Mental Health Navigator
In an effort to expand awareness of the Mental Health Navigator within the Effective Altruism community, we’ve created social media pages, which we intend to use to provide both updates on the status and progress of the Mental Health Navigator, helpful mental health information, and news on mental health efforts within the Effective Altruism community.
Over the course of the next few months, together with our marketing volunteer, we plan to continue expanding our online presence and reaching out to EA communities around the world to make sure more people are aware that we exist and are here to help with navigating mental health resources. You can help with our online expansion by following the Mental Health Navigator on Twitter and LinkedIn and liking us on Facebook!
As the Mental Health Navigator continues to grow and find more information relevant to the effective mental health support, we will continue to update the Mental Health Navigator website. So far, the website has been updated approximately once per week (usually on a Monday).
Updates so far have included:
- A logo and new color scheme
- A more transparent explanation of the Navigator Service consultation process
- The addition of 6 coaches to the Therapists in EA (now Therapists & Coaches in EA) webpage.
- A reorganization of the Resources tab of the website into two sections: one for the mental health resources data bank we’re building and one for general resources (such as more information on crisis support lines, and general information on topics such as trouble sleeping, long COVID, and poly-friendly psychotherapists).
- An attempt at centralizing information on mental health in the Effective Altruism community, including links to other EA Mental Health projects, such as the EAxPsychology website and the Effective Self-Help series.
- The addition of a page dedicated to the EA Mindfulness-Based Programme
- Updating the AirTable (and its form) on the Community-recommended providers page, including the following additions:
- Whether or not a provider is currently taking new clients
- The language(s) in which the providers deliver their services
- Expansion of options in the ‘Populations they specialize in working with’ field to include a greater variety of communities such as child-free by choice, sexual assault survivors, and people of color
- Three fields for filtering by location: city, first-level division (e.g., state, province, municipality), and country
Updates coming in 2022:
- A redesign of the organization of the website
- Making the website available in other languages, starting with German, French, and Spanish
- Add a section for mental health blogs and testimonials, so that anyone who would like to share their mental health experiences has an organized platform for doing so, and so that anyone seeking stories similar too theirs has a place to look
Our next steps
The next steps for the Mental Health Navigator are the following:
- Complete registration as a non-profit organization in the United Kingdom
- Ensure we comply with all data privacy and protection laws
- (Finally) publish the results of the 2021 EA Mental Health Survey
- Complete our transition to Cliniko as our medium for providing a consultations service
- Re-open for consultations by the autumn
- Secure more funding and explore options for maintaining long-term funding
- Complete our guide to different types of therapy by July 1st
- Complete our country-by-country guide to mental health care access by July 1st
- Continue expanding our mental health resource data bank and table of community-recommended providers
- Make both our website and consultations service available in French, Spanish, and German
- A redesign of the organization of the website
- Add a section to the website for mental health blogs and testimonials, so that anyone who would like to share or read about mental health experiences has an organized platform for doing so
Feedback welcome as we continue to progress
The Mental Health Navigator is still a work in progress, and it will be for some time. Even so, we are happy to receive any constructive feedback or ideas you might like to share with us along the way! If you would like to provide constructive feedback or suggestions, this Google Form is the best way to do so. Alternatively, feel free to reach out to email@example.com with any questions, comments, or concerns!
Please note that the mental resources data bank is not the same thing as our community-recommended providers table. Entries to the community-recommended providers table come straight from the community and are not edited, while entries to the mental health resources data bank go through a vetting process before they are added to our website. The reasoning behind this two-fold. Firstly, we want to make sure that the community-recommended providers table remains as a space for the community to openly provide reviews of mental health care providers, while the data bank needs a bit more curation to make sure its entries meet our standard of what counts as an effective mental health resource (this basically means avoiding personal blogs (though we will create a space for those) and pseudoscientific remedies). Secondly, we want to make sure the entries provide as much helpful information as possible without hindering people from making recommendations due to feeling a need to look up information; our recommendations form for the data bank is really meant to make sending in recommendations as easy as possible.
We're currently looking to have some translations of this list checked! So if you know of any native Dutch, Portuguese, or Ukrainian speakers looking for a little extra cash, please ask them to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.