How Projects Work . . .
In 2015, Bishop Earnest Jackson noticed a problem where he preached in the Bayview / Hunters Point neighborhood of San Francisco. Persistent violence coupled with systemic oppression had led to high levels of anxiety, despair and suicide. Yet people in his largely African American community were not taking advantage of mental health services because they didn’t trust the system. They felt that doctors couldn’t relate to them.
2. Pitch for Grant
Bishop Jackson wanted to take action, but knew that it was best to seek partners who could walk alongside him. Working with Floyd Thompkins of the Applied Wisdom Institute (AWI) and Dr. Peter Goldblum, a professor of psychology at Palo Alto University, he went to work on a research grant proposal.
Out of a corporate commitment to the idea that everyone deserves a chance to live a healthy life, folks at Kaiser Permanente responded with a Northern California Innovation grant to study the problem and look for potential solutions.
They immediately went to work to discover the barriers and issues that were at the foundation of the community’s mistrust. They conducted five focus groups with churches, four focus groups with pastors/ministers/bishops, two focus groups with mental health providers and engaged community leaders in one-on-one interviews.
AWI put what it learned to use in an online seminar called Spirituality in Mental Health, led by Dr. Peter Goldblum, Rev. Mark Wilson and Cassie Vieten, PhD. This was used to bring the pastors into dialog with the mental health providers and community leaders. While best practices were shared, they began to learn more about what might work from the group in live interactive sessions that allowed diverse participation at lower expense.
After the seminar, a broader set of Kaiser doctors and mental health professionals began joint training with pastors and community members. They attended a De-stigmatizing Mental Health Services for African American Communities workshop held at Kaiser for Kaiser mental health professionals and Project Trust members.
Success came in three parts. First, this project redefined the problem for Kaiser. Second, doctors began asking pastors and community members about spirituality. What is it? Why is it important? How do you use it in your practice? Third, more people began coming into mental health services after engagement with 21 churches led to the training of 60 people who identify people who can benefit and connected to a larger number of people (actual referrals).
Going forward, one can expect to see further professional impact in the form of conversations with other health systems and major providers about their policies and the opportunity to create more non-medical community offerings.
This example of How Projects Work used the Project Trust research project at the Applied Wisdom Institute as an example. There are many more needs in the world. The best way to address them is to partner with the folks at the Applied Wisdom Institute and get to work. They want to help you put your wisdom into action.