DAEJEON Metropolitan City puts special attention on its people’s mental health. To ensure people can easily reach out for mental support, the city started the operation of “Mind Talk Talk Bus,”a service for psychological support, along with the “Daejeon Regional Mental Health Welfare Centre.” This is also a response of the city not only to pandemic that raises the attention to the mental health, but also to the Epidemiological Survey of Psychiatric Illnesses in Korea in 2016 showing that one out of four people suffers from mental illness at least once in their entire life cycle, but only 22.2 percent of Korean people have experience of using mental health service.
Daejeon prepared the “Mind Talk Talk” Bus with the aim to help citizens get easier access to mental health services and to prevent mental illness become chronic through early detection and treatment of the illness.
The pronunciation of “Talk Talk” is similar to Korean onomatopoeia of knocking, meaning that anyone can come and knock the door to talk to someone about mental health problems. The bus was named by a Daejeon citizen who won the naming contest.
The Bus has a mental health check-up area and a counselling room. In the mental health check-up area, the visitors can check their conditions including depression, anxiety, addiction and suicide risk screening, by using the stress test tool. After the check-up, they can have an in-depth counselling session, while ensuring confidentiality. For citizens who need continued support after the counselling, the Bus can provide extended services by connecting the citizens to professional treatment centres.
Another benefit of the Bus is that citizens can conveniently meet the psychiatrist whom they can see at clinics. The psychiatrists that have joined the Bus can help them in terms of early diagnosis and treatment.
After the test drive of the Bus in January, there have been requests for information. Any institution and group can use the “Mind Talk” Bus by applying for the visit in advance, at schools, offices and housing complexes in Daejeon. The Bus will begin its operation from offices and houses for applicants who have applied in advance, while strictly complying with the quarantine guidelines.
Along with the counselling service, the “Mind Talk” Bus will present cultural performances to citizens so that they can be comfortably talking about mental health issues and get help when needed. Moreover, in case of disasters including COVID-19 pandemic, the Bus will be utilised on site as a space for those who have experienced disasters by providing immediate disaster mental health support services.
Daejeon is not simply supporting citizens who visit institutions for mental health service but actively providing services where the experts go and see the citizens in person, taking the lead in management of balanced physical and mental health of the citizens and in improvement of mental health level of local community.