Building Post-Disaster Resilience in Puerto RIco: ICT-Enabled Mental Health Support Service
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.
We do our best to accurately represent CU Boulder’s outreach programs and services, but they are subject to change and may no longer be active in a community.
Please contact the program directly for current information.