Building Post-Disaster Resilience in Puerto RIco: ICT-Enabled Mental Health Support Service

Program Contact

Annie Bruns

According to public health officials, there are warning signs of a full-fledged mental health crisis in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, and much of the population is showing symptoms of post-traumatic stress. Within the first 2 months after the hurricane, over 2,000 calls (2x normal) had overwhelmed the emergency hotline for psychiatric crises maintained by the PR health department. The rising rates of depression and suicide are among the most critical problems facing PR communities since Hurricane Maria.

While mental healthcare resources are available, mental health screening and diagnosis can create a barrier to patients receiving the treatment they need. In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, primary care physicians are often the first point of contact for individuals who are seeking medical assistance for physical and mental health concerns. These primary care physicians may not always have the time or expertise to face the challenge of diagnosing mental health issues and identifying the most relevant immediate treatment or referral to mental health care services.

Working with collaborators at hospitals and Universities in Puerto Rico, our team aims to create an electronic tool (mobile or desktop application) that utilizes standard diagnostic questionnaires to provide mental health screening that can be easily completed from the patient’s device, or from a device on site at primary care physician. These screening instruments will be used by patients, nurses, and physicians to help begin prognosis and subsequently refer patients to the appropriate mental health care services. We hope creating a readily accessible diagnostic platform will remove this burden from already overworked PCPs, and allow more patients to receive the mental health care services they need.

  • Program Activity


    Outside Colorado

    Puerto Rico



Sponsoring Units

  • College of Engineering & Applied Science

  • Department of Civil, Environmental, & Architectural Engineering
  • Alliance for Technology, Learning, and Society (ATLAS)

Program Partners

  • Albizu University Clinical Psychology Program

Audiences Served

  • Families
  • General Public
  • Minority Group(s)
  • Rural Communities
  • Senior Citizens
  • Socio-Economic Disadvantaged
  • Urban Communities
  • International