Umeko Motoyoshi’s nonprofit Get Psyched Coffee is on a mission to help coffee workers access mental health care.
BY J. MARIE CARLAN
BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE
Featured photo by Morgan Eckroth
In part one of our interview yesterday, we got to know Umeko Motoyoshi (they/them), founder of the coffee supply company Umeshiso. Today, we learn more about Umeshiso’s nonprofit initiative, Get Psyched Coffee.
A Common Struggle
“I started Get Psyched because it was what I needed. I needed someone to just give me $200, so I could go see a psychiatrist,“ Umeko says of their nonprofit, which was launched in 2021.
Get Psyched partners with Go Fund Bean to distribute money for mental health care for baristas. Umeko has struggled to get the help they needed to address mental health issues. In speaking with other baristas, they realized it was a very common problem in the coffee world. “As my brand became more established in the coffee industry,“ Umeko says, “I felt like … if people are listening to me now, then I want to tell them what I couldn’t tell them before (and what other people still can’t say). I just want people to take it seriously that coffee workers suffer a lot from not being able to access mental health care.”
Get Psyched has an approachable internet presence, often using humor to highlight mental health concerns. Umeko believes this makes it easier for people to reach out for support; knowing you are not alone in your struggle can make all the difference.
Umeko points out that there are multiple hurdles for coffee workers seeking mental health treatment. “It’s not easy for a barista to sign up for Medicaid. It’s very difficult to access appropriate care. When you’re low-income, the level of mental health care that you have access to is pretty bad.” Many baristas don’t have health insurance; often small cafés can’t afford to cover it for their employees. Even if baristas do have insurance, psychiatrists often don’t accept it. For many coffee workers, paying for psychiatry sessions out of pocket is not within their budget.
Enter Get Psyched
Baristas seeking funds for mental health care can easily apply for a micro-grant through Get Psyched. The application process is streamlined to make it as simple as possible for applicants. There are no lengthy forms to sign; applicants merely need to give their contact info. “When someone is mentally ill, their executive functioning is offline,” Umeko explains. This barrier makes it difficult for baristas to get care, which Get Psyched took into consideration when planning the application process.
Get Psyched raises funds year-round, then holds one large auction a year before dispersing micro-loans through Go Fund Bean (GFB). GFB started during the pandemic to raise emergency funds for baristas missing work, and have since expanded. In addition to emergency grants, GFB has several other programs, including the Stay Grounded Initiative, which purchases vouchers for a three-month membership to Talkspace, a therapy program.
In 2022, Get Psyched raised enough money to pay for 13 coffee workers’ psychiatry appointments.
Umeshiso and Get Psyched are built on the principle that we as a coffee community must band together to support coffee workers’ ability to receive mental health care. With a range of supporters across the coffee world, Get Psyched Coffee is poised to continue meeting the needs of baristas seeking mental health care.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
J. Marie Carlan (she/they) is the online editor for Barista Magazine. She’s been a barista for fifteen years and writing since she was old enough to hold a pencil. When she’s not behind the espresso bar or toiling over content, you can find her perusing record stores, collecting bric-a-brac, writing poetry, and trying to keep the plants alive in her Denver apartment. She occasionally updates her blog.