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History

The Story of MHART

MHART initially formed in response to the growing anxiety of the healthcare community surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. What started as a simple survey from a psychologist to community mental health providers to identify referrals for healthcare workers evolved into a much larger dream and vision. Representatives from large mental health professional organizations, Tennessee Psychological Association, Nashville Psychotherapy Institute, National Association of Social Workers-Tennessee Chapter, all responded asking how they could join efforts to support the community.

On April 3, 2020, this group of mental health professionals met for the first time virtually and shared their passion for creating a network of volunteers to help support the Tennessee community both in response to COVID-19 and in response to future emergent needs like natural disasters or community violence. The founding Board members put in an incredible amount of work in a short period of time and incorporated as the Mental Health Active Response Team on April 25, 2020.

In partnership with the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, Tennessee Association of Alcohol, Drug & other Addiction Services (TAADAS), and the National Association of Social Workers- Tennessee Chapter (NASW-TN), MHART launched the Tennessee COVID-19 Emotional Support Line for Healthcare Workers (1-888-MHARTTN) on May 26, 2020. The Support Line has grown to be housed by Family and Children Services.

In September 2020, MHART launched its pro bono psychotherapy program. This program serves as a bridge between Tennesseans in need and mental health professionals willing to volunteer therapy sessions during times of urgent and emergent needs in the community.

While essential workers are the current recipients of these efforts, MHART intends for this to be a model that will be used again and again whenever disaster strikes. Through the devastation of tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, pandemics and yet unimagined crises, MHART will harness the power of volunteerism to quickly respond to the mental health needs of Tennesseans.