Challenge #4 – Community Mental Health

Posted on Jan 28, 2011

Community Mental Health

in partnership with the Adler School of Professional Psychology

Challenge Overview

Professional psychologists have a lot more to offer than treating individual neuroses and leading group therapy. As a global community, we’d be healthier if access to the tools of their trade were much more widely available. The problem is that therapy, as we know it, only works for some people. In fact, it’s only really available to a small number of those who want or need it. Embracing the knowledge that people can’t be healthy in isolation, bonds become key to our health as individuals and communities. If our goal is community health and social responsibility, then we must re-imagine the role of the professional psychologist outside of a one-on-one relationship. We can’t solve these challenges one person at a time; it’s not scalable.


Adler, focused on social engagement and inclusion, is leading the charge by redesigning their core curriculum to better equip future practitioners to take up the mantle and foster that change. Before they can do that, we must expand psychology to address today’s challenges and prepare for tomorrow’s.

Working with Adler’s Institute for Public Safety and Social Justice on the UNION Impact Center, Sgt Escamilla (CPD – 11th District) had this to say about creating a new approach: “You can’t just dump services on people and walk away; that type of assistance creates dependence…You have to cultivate solutions that are sustainable…”

Your Challenge Is…

To re-think an aging system that ties psychology to a couch in a wood-paneled office.

How do we reinvent/ re-imagine /repurpose our existing tools (roles, methodologies, approaches) and scale the value they provide to a community level, rather than only addressing individual needs?

Design Conditions

  • Create exciting jobs with high-earning potential (remain professionally trained and professionally compensated jobs; role would be entrepreneurial and not institutional)
  • Expand well beyond typical folks who get therapy (must engage middle of bell curve)
  • More imaginative funding of this system – go beyond government and rich folks
  • Reduce/Eliminate Stigma around Psychotherapy – should be thought of the way we think about physical health
  • Build on societal expectations – like all school students should be immunized
  • Start with current system, where instructors are traditionally trained and professional credentials are key

Additional Resources