Operation Nightwatch
Serving Portland's Street Population Since 1981

The Nightwatch Mental Health Initiative

The Nightwatch Mental Health Initiative


Operation Nightwatch is excited about our Mental Health Initiative and the progress we have made this past year. Kolin Busby now serves as our Mental Health Services Director and primarily operates at the Downtown Hospitality Center. We are, however, working to expand our mental health services to our SE location later this year. At the heart of our Mental Health Initiative, Kolin provides trauma-informed crisis counseling, solution-focused brief therapy, and engages guests in harm reduction strategies. He offers strengths-based support to guests who do not typically engage with traditional mental healthcare services. He is available throughout the night for any guest at any time. He has also been working to bring peer support specialists in as volunteers as a means to better support our diverse population of guests.

There are many factors that affect people who do not have safe and stable housing. Isolation, trauma, addiction, anxiety, depression, violence, sleep deprivation, the constant and often abrupt cycling between abundance and scarcity, the elements, and having basic human needs not met can drastically impact one's state of mind and well-being. Our Mental Health Initiative supports both those experiencing severe and persistent mental health issues, as well as those struggling with the hardships and stress of being houseless.

The primary focus of our Mental Health Initiative is to foster relationships with our guests that are built on trust and consistency. Our guests know that every week Kolin will be there for them, supporting everyone who walks through our doors just as they are, free from judgment and prejudice. Within these relationships, Kolin gets to know our guests as individuals, helping them to recognize their unique strengths that already reside within them. He is also responsible for referring guests to medical clinics and other mental health, housing, and addiction agencies.

The positive psychological impact of our Mental Health Initiative on our guests can not be underestimated. We have found when guests feel safe and cared for, they are more likely to embark on conversations about change, choices, and harm reduction.

At Operation Nightwatch, we believe everyone deserves to be seen and heard. We know our guests are more than their set of circumstances and stereotypes that can often bind them. For a few nights a week, we offer our guests a reprieve from the often curdling ebb and flow of life on the streets and hope that our Mental Health Initiative will help them to better face the mental, emotional, and physical challenges of being houseless.