EXCLUSIVE: Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner creates Georgia’s first-ever tiny home mobile mental health clinic

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner creates Georgia’s first-ever tiny home mobile mental health clinic
Published: Sep. 1, 2023 at 11:01 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 1, 2023 at 11:22 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Most of our doctor appointments are inside a brick-and-mortar, but a metro Atlanta psychiatric nurse practitioner is taking mental health care to your door.

Inside Dragon Tiny Homes, you can hear the sound of history being carved out on four wheels. They built what is said to be the first-ever mobile tiny home psychiatric mental health clinic.

“This is the first of its kind in the state,” said Dr. Joanne Patterson, DNP, PMHNP-BC, CIMHP. She is the owner of Dr. Joanne Psychiatry. “As far as psychiatry, this is the first tiny home mental health clinic, I think not just Georgia, but ever,” she said.

Patterson said she has a Doctorate in Nursing Practice, which means she is not a medical doctor.

The tiny clinic on wheels is 22 feet long, 8.5 feet wide, and 13.5 feet high.

The mom and entrepreneur wants to give the mothers and their families a comfortable and safe space to heal.

“I was an OB nurse many years ago and I realized that there were a lot of women--postpartum, that we’re not going to get the treatment that they need it. You could tell that postpartum depression, all of those things were sort of evolving, and there wasn’t really anyone to refer them to,” Dr. Patterson said. “So, I sought out to become a mental health professional specifically, so I can focus on reproductive mental health, but also then embracing their children as well. I see a lot of generations of patients. Not only am I seeing their mom, but I’m seeing their grandmother, sometimes I’m seeing the kids as well. So, I just felt like this would be an important service to the generations that I see,” she said.

She said the mobile clinic is primarily for the “modern woman and her family”.

“The idea came from me wanting to make sure that there was accessible and comfortable mental health care for the women and children in Metro Atlanta,” Dr. Patterson said. “Oftentimes we hear about mental health treatment, but people don’t seek the treatment, simply because the environment is a little scary and there a stigma and the perception of mental health is in a negative light,” she said.

She said also saw the need after the pandemic in 2020.

“In COVID, the numbers surged with the need for mental health care, because of the stressors of losing jobs and losing loved ones,” she said.

She birthed the concept to ensure there’s accessibility for all, including the underserved.

“A lot of times you will get patients who are not on a bus route, or they’re in rural areas where there aren’t many providers to begin with, and so, being able to not just take care of suburbia or the urban areas, but also looking at the rural areas too. Like Hall County, you know Clarke County where Athens is all those areas. They’re still needing mental health care as well,” she said.

The mobile clinic will be stationed in specific areas of Gwinnett and DeKalb Counties, as well. Dr. Patterson said they are looking at targeting the northeast Georgia area.

Dr. Patterson said there is a form on her website to contact the Clinic if you’re interested in having their services on your property.

“This month we’ll be working with individuals, and organizations to have them have the mobile mental health clinic

stationed in specific areas,” she said. “We’re hoping to really make sure that we are stationed at schools. So that way, moms don’t have to disrupt their workday to take their kids out of school. The kids can be seen right here in the mobile mental health clinic and moms can log in virtually so that we’re all hearing and seeing the same thing,” Dr. Patterson said.

Overall, she said she wants people to know there is always help, and it can now come right to your door.

“It is okay to seek mental health treatment. It is not as scary as it seems,” she said.

Additionally, the clinic will provide shared medical appointments, which is a series of one-on-one encounters with patients in a group setting. Dr. Patterson said this is an alternative to individual medical appointments for women with depression and anxiety disorders. She adds this model provides advantages when it comes to peer support.

Dr. Patterson said the clinic should officially open sometime in mid-September.