Strategic Use of Wellness Ambassadors to Increase Attendance of Initial Mental Health Appointments

Kaitlyn Blair, Mirna Law, Bettina Bernstein

Research output: Contribution to conferencePresentation


<p> <strong> Background </strong></p><p> Many adults and children with mental health conditions in the US do not receive treatment, and in Philadelphia alone, there were 174 suicide deaths in 2017. The shortage of mental health professionals and long wait times are significant barriers to accessing mental health care. Executive function difficulties can make it challenging for individuals to maintain a schedule for mental health appointments. A study found that reminder phone calls result in an increased rate of mental health appointment keeping. The goal of this project is to increase attendance of first mental health appointments by patients referred to mental health services via Wellness Ambassadors (WLA) in the family medicine office to help schedule initial appointments.</p><p> <strong> Objectives </strong> <ul> <li> </li> </ul></p><p> &gt;75% participant attendance of mental health appointments scheduled with WLA assistance <ul> <li> </li> </ul></p><p> Investigate how sequelae of mental health disorders serve as a primary barrier to accessing mental health care. <ul> <li> </li> </ul></p><p> Collect pertinent data about the level of effort necessary to access the appropriate mental health care for each participant to influence future public health policy surrounding mental healthcare access.</p><p> <strong> Proposal Overview </strong></p><p> Students enrolled in mental health programs volunteering to be Wellness Ambassadors will be trained in case management and telephonic follow-up interventions to help schedule an appointment with mental health services that is practical based on the patient&rsquo;s timeline and resources in accordance with the services referred by their PCP.</p><p> Phase 1 will take place in the PCOM family medicine office. There, volunteers will schedule initial appointments with mental health providers for qualifying participants before they leave the office. Phase 2 will be dedicated to scaling up to offer this service at up to four additional family medicine clinics on top of continuing at the PCOM family medicine clinic.</p><p> WLAs will complete the Citi training and PCOM institutional training for research that involves human participants as well as HIPAA compliance certification. All volunteers will receive communication training to ensure that participants understand the services and their right to discontinue at any time.</p><p> <strong> Evaluation of Outcomes </strong></p><p> After both phase 1 and 2, an anonymous survey will be sent via Red Cap, PCOM&rsquo;s secure HIPAA-compliant platform, to all health care consumers at PCOM family medicine who provide their consent to participate.</p><p> <strong> Anticipated Outcomes </strong> <ul> <li> </li> </ul></p><p> Majority of relevant survey respondents who enroll in the study will express that scheduling a mental health appointment without assistance would result in delay of care or losing access to care. <li> </li></p><p> Those who do not participate will indicate that receiving assistance to schedule their appointment would positively impact their ability to obtain and attend said appointment. <li> </li></p><p> More than 50% of participants will report being &ldquo;unlikely&rdquo; or &ldquo;very unlikely&rdquo; to schedule their first mental health appointment without assistance. <li> </li></p><p> Participants are expected to be 25% more likely to obtain mental health care services than non-participants. <li> </li></p><p> Preliminary data obtained will be used for further research into the impact of mental health disorders as a barrier to accessing mental health care.</p>
Original languageAmerican English
StatePublished - May 3 2023


  • mental health
  • treatment
  • appointments
  • scheduling
  • phone
  • calls
  • wellness
  • ambassadors


  • Medicine and Health Sciences
  • Psychiatry and Psychology

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