Fresh off its first community project focused on hypertension in Nashville, the Belmont Data Collaborative (BDC) announced the launch of Project WELL, a new health equity initiative focused on addressing mental health concerns in young Nashvillians.
In partnership with community funding from CaringWays, a trusted crowdfunding platform for healthcare-related expenses, BDC’s role in the initiative will focus on using data to identify populations across Nashville who have the greatest need for mental health care resources. This data will then inform the deployment of resources, with help from nonprofit partner Accessia Health, to support Nashville’s greatest needs.
Wes Sellers, CaringWays co-founder and CEO and Belmont alumnus (MBA, ‘07), connected with BDC Executive Director Charlie Apigian last year after hearing about the Data Collaborative’s successful hypertension project. Sellers was looking for data to support a project created by Baltimore Ravens Defensive End Calais Campbell that provided mental health therapy to area teenagers, emphasizing the normality of seeing a therapist, specifically among the Black community. With vested interest in mental health for many personal reasons, BDC staff quickly signed on and partnered with commercial real estate firm Avison Young to provide the needed data to inform the project’s funding strategy.
This successful project in Baltimore inspired the idea to do something similar, but on a bigger scale, in Nashville. Project WELL is now underway, with a goal of $1.2 million raised to support and provide mental health care, reduce stigma and generate awareness.
“When you align big data and big dollars, you have the ability to convene people and move toward action, which leads to longitudinal effects,” said Sellers. “We have big partners on board for this project, focused on speaking against the stigma of mental health and raising awareness through storytelling. Data, funding and smart philanthropic partnerships are the three legs of the stool, and we are excited to have these elements in place to make this project successful.”
BDC is using its new DDIA thinking model (Dilemma, Data, Insights, Action) to approach Project WELL. Currently in the “dilemma” phase of the framework, BDC is working through researching and defining the population the project will focus on.
For now, BDC is examining Nashvillians ages 18 – 39, the populations where the greatest spike of mental health issues is typically seen. The team will look at where a difference could be made in terms of environmental factors, using the data Avison Young supplied to get an initial look at the Nashville landscape. BDC will then create a model based on social determinants of mental health that will allow the mental health community to see what hasn’t been seen before – looking at populations that have previously been unaccounted for to understand which communities need more resources.
“Data is a convener, and it brings good people together,” added Apigian. “Through this project, we will be able to empower and inspire others through data, while engaging more partners in supporting this important cause.”
BDC’s initial report will be available in August and will serve as a conversation starter to identify community partners, begin deeper analysis and uncover areas to take action. Meanwhile, CaringWays will begin fundraising efforts. For more information on how to join this conversation and support BDC’s work related to mental health, visit belmontdata.org.