TERRA: a vehicle for changing mental health conversations from stigma to social support.
Mental health touches everyone across the globe regardless of culture, race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation. It also crosses all sectors from workplace culture to LGBTQ youth; our homeless population to refugee communities; new mothers to aging adults. During times of natural disaster or public crisis, we all need a little extra support. And keeping those struggling with mental health issues out of prison is a feat in and of itself. Community-focused organizations are doing phenomenal work and making strides every year, however, the challenge still lies in public stigma and access, which leads to individuals not getting help when and where they need it most.
We are shifting the conversation entry point entirely, from individual ask to social experience.
It is only when we spark curiosity that we can educate, create empathy, and shift perspectives. Our goal is to create a second team of help - our "partners on the ground", neighbors and fellow community members - to change the reality.
TERRA is our "partner on the ground" providing a barrier-free mental health care experience. Our conversation starts with self-care + shared stories and ends with consumers becoming trusted partners themselves building healthier, resilient, and more connected communities.
TERRA Mobile is a truck + mobile program-flexible, stigma-busting vehicle on the ground when and where you need it most. It can be present in a public crisis (ex: hurricane relief efforts) or stationed at a partnering organization for accessible treatment sessions. Mental health professionals have the capacity to scale and deliver their services, partnering with local entities (on-location) such as law enforcement, churches, schools, and LGBTQ centers to provide targeted education. Perhaps the most effective programming in reducing stigma is the pop-up mode, with self-care experiences and education creating social buzz at festivals and gatherings.
TERRA Mobile is created through three equal strategies : Cultural, Partnership, and Design.
de-stigmatization + shared experience
Food trucks are prolific across the globe as a cultural and social destination. By utilizing this urban icon we can build rapport, spread knowledge, and create the trust necessary to open up "taboo" dialogue in a fun and engaging setting. We can provide easy-to-access social events focused on sparking curiosity, personal education, and shared experiences. This allows for barrier-free participation around mental health topics and creates the understanding that no one is suffering alone.
education, prevention, + intervention
Because we are reaching out to partnerships on their turf, we will EXPAND truck + mortar mobility into communities most in need of resources; CONNECT through educational outreach programs, shifting public sentiment from stigma to empathy; and DELIVER mobile treatment space for those seeking immediate help. With a range of services required, each truck can be configured for specific programming and partnership needs.
flexibility + scale
While the truck + mortar model drives the typology, interactive walls and nature inform the design strategies themselves. Each truck is recognized as a "greenhouse on wheels", inserting natural elements and flooding the unit with light. There are walls for healing, for sharing stories, and for privacy. Hinged panels can open up to provide an expanded space for multi-person gatherings, or circle up a few trucks to create a large event/treatment space in the center.
Future vision: TERRA Home
The future vision of mental health post-stigma is one where accessing treatment is as common and easy as your neighborhood urgent care center, with our practitioners working alongside physical health care providers to create deep community support.
TERRA Home is a brick + mortar location that reflects the same programming and design aesthetic of TERRA Mobile, with connection to nature providing the common experience across locations and allowing for self-care education, social activities, and on-demand treatment to co-exist in a safe and affordable center.
This could be a stand alone center within a city block or town. It could also become a stationary pop-up in an existing community or business space as a long-term partnership opportunity.
Partnerships drive the customized programming and service offerings for TERRA.
From trusted neighborhood organizations to national institutes to emergency collaborators, partnerships are integral to TERRA outreach. Our aim is to facilitate conversations across sectors, giving our community and policy leaders the tools to become trusted partners in creating safe and reliable spaces for mental health care. Partnership groups include:
Through our truck + mortar model, those leading the mental health conversation are able to bring targeted programming directly to groups in need, exactly when they need it. With trucks that are dedicated to Public Crisis Relief, Guerrilla Outreach, Targeted Education, and On-demand Treatment, we are able to customize each experience to the strategic goals of our partners.
Regardless of stigma, we can immediately assist communities on the ground during public crisis events across the globe. Because of the modular construction, trucks can easily be dismantled and shipped where needed. Each effort is led by local mental health practitioners unless further support is required and future build-outs can include bed and toilet facilities.
Public Crisis Relief
Social interactions are the gateway into creating a stigma-free culture. By creating interactive experiences geared towards sparking curiosity, we can begin to introduce populations unfamiliar with self-care strategies.
Educational environments open up, expanding to accommodate small groups while still maintaining a dedicated space for learning. Collaborators include our law enforcement, schools, religious organizations, and LGBTQ centers as well as other groups looking for more targeted information.
Our treatment environments provide private, safe and healing environments for individuals to receive specific care. We envision serving our more isolated demographics such as seniors, home-bound caregivers, and new moms as well as partnering with local organizations for a day of pre-scheduled treatment for their community.
Illustrated below are potential TERRA Mobile partnerships across the globe, providing local organizations with a vehicle to facilitate targeted experiences for their communities.
Pop-up social experience in San Francisco by Mental Health Association in San Francisco (MHASF)
Safe self-expression for children dealing with trauma in Syrian refugee camps with Project Amal ou Salam
Modular design pieces allow partners to scale and customize their experiences and services.
An 8' x 8' x 8' steel frame makes up UNIT A, the base module that can be repeated as program requires. On top of this 8' cube sits a pitched skylight to allow for maximum air and light to come through the space.
These modules sit atop a FLATBED TRUCK, with units added as the dimension of the truckbed permits.
There are a variety of panels for use, each one measuring 8' x 4' in size with thickness determined by material type. These can be placed next to each other to create larger, continuous surfaces and hinged in order to open up and create pockets of space within the truck.
We have three types that are used for the exterior: Glass, Screen, and Wood. Each of these have a metal frame and base and are able to be hinged in either direction
Interior panels are used to prompt activity, support program functions, and create ambiance. We have four general types: Connecting, Living, Healing, and Storytelling.
These are metal panels that communicate partnerships, programming, and resources. They are also opportunities for commissioning local street artist works.
Regional and local plants and grasses are the feature of the living wall. They may cover the entire wall or be sectioned in one area, depending on environment and caretaking.
These walls are thicker and packed with healing salt behind a sturdy canvas. They are a desert rose, are labeled with text, and are heated by lights to activate the healing properties within.
Although our stories may be different, we are not alone. These walls are always interactive and allow for individuals to share their stories anonymously either by physical touch or audio.
Our multi-disciplinary team came together to solve a design challenge from the Van Alen Institute (inspired by Mayor DeBlasio's campaign ThriveNYC) on mental health support and quickly realized that our passion and desire to shift the conversation was much larger than our hometown of New York City. With a community-focused mission and expertise in Design, Cultural Strategy, Horticulture, and Strategic Planning, we qualified for the finals and walked away with a 2nd place/honorable mention win.
That was only the beginning…
Through TERRA, we believe we can:
create the potential for organizations across all sectors to support individuals in learning/sharing their stories and creating better self-care routines.
facilitate a future where mental health is stigma-free and out-of-the-closet.
spark a global movement for accessible, affordable, and safe mental health treatment for all.
If you are interested in helping TERRA become a reality and resource to our trusted mental health partners, please contact us here.