Mental Health Navigation Tool

A navigation tool to help care seekers find quality care and treatment

My Role
Co-Initiator & Organizer
Co-Project Manager
Partnerships and Development Lead

Facilitation Team
Jessa Lingel, Assistant Professor at Annenberg
Olin Morris, Mental Health Navigator
El Sigelman, Project Manager
Quan Quan Nguyen, Jr. UX Designer
Corey Chao, Designer
Chloe Nurik, PhD and JD candidate 


Mental health is the number one disability worldwide impacting both individuals (resulting in diminished quality of life, exacerbated co-morbidities, and negative impact on social connectedness) and communities (straining health systems and costly to social services).

In Pennsylvania, more than one out of five adults seeking mental health treatment do not receive care. In Philadelphia, mental health needs are reflected in its status as a sanctuary city (based on a PEW study from 2016, a quarter of Philadelphia’s population was born abroad), large youth and young adult population (as an academic hub), and an overwhelming need for more support for people who use drugs (over 1,217 people died of drug related overdoses in 2017).

So we asked ourselves, how might underserved people and communities access self-determined mental health care in Philadelphia?


This community initiative is best understood in two phases:

  1. Discovery and research
  2. Collaborative design workshops with community mental health care seekers and navigators

A short academic publication emerged from the discovery phase and a forthcoming report and pilot mobile-web platform is being produced in partnership with researchers from UPenn's Annenberg School of Communication, Social Policy and Practice School, and Penn Medicine.

Discovery and Research 

A strategic partnership with 17 UPenn PhD graduate students led to a series of interviews to understand the barriers vulnerable communities faced when trying to access mental health care in Philadelphia.

Interviews with individuals representing: The Attic Youth,  Impact Project at UPenn, Kirkbride Treatment Facility, Defenders Association, TIP Program, GRI, Pink & Blues Philadelphia LGBT Peer-Run Support Group, Dallas Vitali Fetterman Foundation, Pathways to Housing, Victory Bay, Daughters and Sons Initiative, PMHCC, and the Department of Emergency Medicine at Drexel College of Medicine helped to shape how we understood mental health needs across Philadelphia.

The collaboration resulted in a  publications and influenced Creative Resilience Collective’s 2019 areas of focus.

Collaborative Design Workshop 

A collaborative design workshops with community mental health care seekers and navigators, was held on Saturday, April 20, 2019 to collectively lay the groundwork for designing a tool to help people find and access self-determined mental health care services.

The workshop helped focus the initial use case for a mobile-web platform and research initiative to make substance use treatment facilities easier to access for underserved people using drugs and experiencing homelessness in Philadelphia.