Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Communities of color and historically marginalized communities face disproportionate challenges around access to and quality of mental health and substance use care resulting in significantly poorer outcomes. The National Council is committed to supporting our board, staff, members and the field, ultimately striving for equity in access, quality, financing, research and outcomes.
Internal DEI Commitments
To support our board, leadership and staff in their day-to-day work in addressing diversity and health disparities that lead to health inequities, our policies, practices and behaviors as an organization seek to ensure staff have a strong sense of belonging, reinforced by a larger organizational commitment to the ever-evolving and dynamic intersection of diversity, equity and inclusion.
Our organization is internally committed to this through:
- Board of Directors: The Board of Directors of the National Council for Mental Wellbeing represents the membership and is committed to diversity, leadership and promoting excellence in mental health and addictions treatment.
- Executive Leadership: The National Council’s executive leadership fosters a daily culture of inclusivity and equity, underpinned by strong organization polices, practices and behaviors that cultivate belonging and promote respect for and celebration of each individual’s culture, identity, lived experience, ability, beliefs and practices.
- DEI Committee: Our internal DEI Committee serves as an organizational resource to provide educational materials and forums; ensure diverse staff voice and representation; and generate subject matter expertise on issues of equity that affect the National Council, our members, the field and society at large.
- Belonging Supports: Our employee resource groups provide National Council employees opportunities to engage, connect and support each other in a culturally safe space to promote their health and mental wellbeing. Through supporting one another, supporting effective change and informing the organization as a collective, we embrace the inherent intersection of all identities.
External DEI Offerings
To support you in addressing inequities and to ensure you have the tools to support your patients and providers, the National Council has compiled a Health Equity Training and Resource Library of trainings, tools and other resources with the most up-to-date materials available.
Facilitating Change Through Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Offerings
Supporting our members and the field to specifically address key levers for change in the diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) space will contribute to achieving the larger goal: to enable long-term systemic change to improve equitable mental health and substance use outcomes.
The National Council aligns our DEI efforts according to these key levers, which are designed to facilitate change at the individual and organizational levels.
Health Care Systems Change
Change Lever 1: Access to Care
A specific focus on what type of care, how care is delivered and to whom is critical to address the mental health and substance use challenges faced by marginalized communities, including communities of color, LGBTQ+ communities, people with disabilities and others. We believe change can be facilitated by providing DEI offerings that specifically seek to address health inequities by extending comprehensive and whole-person care to those most in need. These offerings include:
- Access for Everyone: A Toolkit for Addressing Health Equity and Racial Justice within Integrated Care Settings. The goal of this toolkit is to provide knowledge, resources and support tools to assist integrated care professionals in their understanding of health inequities and, ultimately, advance health equity among their patients and staff.
- Trauma-informed Resilience-oriented Approaches Learning Community. This is a 12-month virtual Learning Community that can be conducted with multiple organizations or as a single organization consultation. Through this learning collaborative, the National Council’s experts help organizations develop and implement a complete trauma-informed and resilience-oriented plan to build resilience in the organization’s workforce in a sustainable manner.
- LGBTQ+ Interest Group. The National Council’s LGBTQ+ Interest Group is a unique opportunity to network with likeminded peers, stay on top of social issues and trends, guide forward-looking conversations and propose solutions to pressing problems.
- Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Interest Group. Through the IDD Interest Group, the National Council supports members with the opportunity to liaison with likeminded peers, guide forward-looking conversations and propose solutions to enhance equity and inclusion in service provision for individuals with IDD and the organizations that support and serve them.
Organizational Level Change
Change Lever 2: Leadership Development
Empowering health care leaders to better understand health disparities, systemic racism and social determinants is critical to facilitating change. National Council’s offerings that specifically support leadership development include:
- Trauma-informed Leadership Cohort. This competitive leadership cohort provides a holistic approach to leadership and trains leaders through a year-long initiative that incorporates not only the day-to-day tasks of management, but also the relationship-based skills needed to move from manager to leader, particularly when faced with changing environments.
- Social Justice Leadership Academy. The Social Justice Leadership Academy (SJLA) is a multi-level knowledge and awareness applied curriculum to support leaders in understanding injustices and inequities.
Change Lever 3: Building a Diverse and Inclusive Workforce
Building a diverse and inclusive workforce empowered with the tools to dismantle current inequities is necessary for change. Grounding workforce development in DEI principles provides a foundation to facilitate change at the individual level to advance equity, while also supporting a dynamic workforce. National Council offerings that specially support diverse, equitable and inclusive workforces include:
- Office Hours on Strategies to Support Wellbeing and Retention of Black, Indigenous and People of Color Staff. The National Council hosts office hours on strategies to support workforce development, retention and overall wellbeing among staff who identify as Black, Indigenous and people of color.
Secondarily Most Impacted Systems Change for Black, Indigenous and People of Color
Change Lever 4: Criminal Justice and Community Re-entry
The National Council acknowledges that our criminal legal system does not, in its current form, serve the best interests of people with mental health and substance use challenges, and in many cases exacerbates people’s involvement with systems that compromise the quality of their care and recovery potential. This is further pronounced among Black, Indigenous and other people of color, who are disproportionately punished rather than linked to treatment and care.
National Council offerings that specifically support DEI work at the intersection of mental health, substance use and the criminal legal system include:
- Training and Education for Public Safety to Reduce Overdose Among Communities of Color. The National Council has developed a suite of offerings that combine the principles of trauma-informed, recovery-oriented and procedural justice in public safety. This suite of technical assistance tools includes a framework, toolkit and individual education tools and modules for public safety officers.
- Criminal Justice Behavioral Health Collaborative. Through the Criminal Justice Behavioral Health Collaborative (CJBHC), the National Council has developed a set of core competencies cross-walked with the Sequential Intercept Model to help professionals – from police to correctional workers to probation officers –increase knowledge of the specific nuances of working with people who have mental health and substance use challenges. Through the CJBHC, the National Council and Policy Research Associates can provide organizations with training and technical assistance that enhances organizational processes and clinical acumen for screening and assessment, care planning, and coordination and intervention.