The Emotional Fitness Centers of Tennessee are a faith-based, culturally sensitive mental health program that addresses utilization disparities and under-utilization of mental health services in West Tennessee by removing the stigma often associated with the need for mental health services in these under-served communities. These Centers are domiciled in 10 local churches in different ZIP Code areas across the city. To help remove the stigma these sites are not called MENTAL HEALTH CENTERS but EMOTIONAL FITNESS CENTERS. The name gives a different meaning to the need; additionally, utilizing the church, a trusted venue in our communities as the hub makes the likelihood of utilization high. Individuals in emotional distress are encouraged to call (901) 370-HOPE(4673). The Program Navigator directs the caller to a PAL (Peer Advocate Liaison) in a church close to their home. The PAL makes contact with the individual within hours to schedule an appointment to screen them. After the screening, the form is reviewed by a Licensed Professional Counselor, who determines what type of services the client needs (i.e., further testing from a mental health center, support group, etc.). The PAL contacts the client to disclose what services are needed in addressing their emotional wellness. The PAL also follows up with the client to ensure they acquire needed services. This makes it possible for the client to receive services and it increases accessibility to those services. It should be noted that if the client does not want to the Mental Health Center, the mental health center will send an employee to the church to do the testing.
There is also a Nurse Practitioner with this program who gives clients a physical who have been so distraught they have failed to pay attention to their physical health. The Emotional Fitness Centers of Tennessee partners with the State of Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities, Value Options, AmeriChoice, Whitehaven Mental Health Center, Frayser Mental Health Center, Southeast Mental Health Center, and Methodist Healthcare. New partnerships are being formed because of the success of utilizing the church as an entry point. This is indeed a model approach to delivery of mental health services to the community.