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Imagine waiting three months to see your therapist only to be told, “You’re in the wrong place.” It happens to patients all the time within mental healthcare because our sector’s wayfinding frankly sucks. As a practice, be specific. Call it niche, call it focus area, but call it something because otherwise people won’t be able to find you! (Or they’ll find you thinking you are something else entirely, which can be harmful.)

Community mental health, private practice, multispecialty group practice, academic medical center: no matter what the setting, finding the best fit therapist is daunting. In the architectural world, “wayfinding” is the art of designing flow and signage so that a participant gets led through an experience…most times without even recognizing they’re being led. It becomes an intuitive exercise.

One company that does this extremely well is IKEA. Notice how the path leads you through mockups and displays seamlessly integrating hundreds of aspects at a time. Yet, it feels as if you’re just looking at a dining room or living room. You look up to realize you made it to exactly the place you wanted to be. The wayfinding worked.

Mental health lacks this structure. The result is that patients enter at all points, some having to walk backward or sideways to get to where they’re best helped. If this were IKEA, it’d be a madhouse!  We, as clinicians and stewards of the mental health ecosystem, must do better.

Our industry is behind. Coordinating a “collective wayfinding” project is daunting. But Simply Psych aims to do its part by highlighting tools (like Mental Health Match), companies (like DocSpace), and campaigns (like TherapyForBlackGirls) who work to improve access to quality, targeted mental health care.

To see a thriving mental health ecosystem that is able to treat all care-seekers within context and through niche-specific practices, we must work together to highlight resources that take into account diversity, equity, and inclusion. Our friends over at The Summit Wellness Group shared with us some amazing and culturally competent guides, which we found very helpful!

    • Live Another Day lists equal-access life-saving mental health and substance use recovery resources that are all of top quality.
    • For a thorough guide highlighting addiction and mental health resources for Asian American college students, check out this resource from the Lexington Addiction Center.
    • If you’re looking for information and resources relating to addiction and self-care for Black women, Southeast Detox offers a fantastic guide.

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