DEIW (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Wellness)
Established in 1908, Mental Health Connecticut, Inc. (MHC) has a long-standing history of combatting the stigma and discrimination associated with a mental health diagnosis, co-occurring conditions, and their associated symptoms. As society continues to face stigma in all forms, MHC is committed to combat them both internally for the safety and wellness of our employees and program participants as well as externally for communities across Connecticut.
We believe that MHC’s mission of creating environments that support long-term health and wellness must include a commitment to practicing cultural humility, antiracism, and allyship. Core to this commitment is meeting people where they are and working together for a more just, welcoming, and safe community for everyone.
So, what does our commitment to social justice look like?
In just two years time, we have:
- Launched the Equity, Social Justice & Antiracism (ESJA) Advisory Committee
- Publicly shared our Antiracism statement
- Created my role of DEI & Engagement Coordinator
- Partnered with ExecMommyGroup to conduct an organization-wide DEI assessment
- Engaged all MHC employees and Board members to participate in an “Intro to DEI” training to ensure a common language and understanding of the importance of inclusion in the workplace
- Created and distributed our “Cultural Competency, Humility, and Inclusion Plan,” an internal guidebook entitled, “Trigger Warning: A History of Unknowingly Offensive Words and Phrases,” and other guides and resources for our staff
Here are some of highlights of the work:
Equity, Social Justice & Antiracism (ESJA) Committee
The mission of the ESJA Advisory Committee is to identify and create solution-based recommendations that improve MHC’s work culture with a focus on social justice, cultural humility, and equity for staff, program participants, and the communities we serve.
Of note, this committee has established monthly educational offerings to staff which includes a series called the “ESJA Learning Collaborative” where productive dialogue among staff is encouraged to allow for safe and BRAVE spaces to be part of the MHC work environment. Each meeting is hosted virtually by a rotating member of the ESJA. Past sessions have included:
- Discussing DEI in the Workplace
- Knowing the Difference Between Bigotry and Oppression
- White Supremacy Marginalized: Then and Now
- Intergenerational Trauma: The Impact of Family History & Strategies to Cope
- Road to Cultural Appreciation: Demystifying Cultural Appropriation and Misappropriation
- Growing Up in an Immigrant Family
- Debunking the Myths Behind Critical Race Theory
- LGBTQ+ History, Health & Inclusion
Along with improving MHC’s DEI efforts, the committee is also responsible for creating resources including, “Trigger Warning: A History of Unknowingly Offensive Words and Phrases,” a resource and advocacy guide for the LGBTQ+ community, and a language resource for those interested in learning Spanish, ASL, French, or other languages.
The committee is also tasked with updating and promoting the organization’s Cultural Competency, Humility, and Inclusion Plan.
Cultural Competency, Humility, and Inclusion Plan
MHC’s Cultural Competency, Humility, and Inclusion Plan outlines our organization-wide commitment to DEIW. At MHC, we believe that competency is the mastering of a skillset of knowledge while humility is the acceptance of the unknown and the willingness to learn and grow. Both are necessary in this work and are incorporated into our plan for a more inclusive work environment.
Trainings for MHC staff and the community at-large for general knowledge and understanding of other cultures are paired with open discussions and sharing sessions to promote an ongoing practice of learning, unlearning, and learning again. Current goals for the 2022 – 2025 plan include:
- Create an environment that is inclusive and welcoming for all individuals
- Increase opportunities for staff to practice Cultural Humility with fellow co-workers and ingrain this practice into MHC’s core values of Safety, Respect, Support, Accountability, and Trust
- Diversify partnerships and Leadership Team
- Increase Board involvement and education in DEIW efforts
- Promote DEIW efforts to the public
MHC’s Cultural Competency, Humility, and Inclusion Plan also includes the following statements:
- MHC’s Antiracism Statement
- Equal Opportunity Employer Statement
- Affirmative Action Policy
- Vendor Diversity Policy Statement
How is your organization dedicating resources to social justice? I’d love to hear about it! Contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
About Jacquilyn Davis
Jacquilyn started at MHC in 2015, supporting MHC’s strategic and executive teams and leading marketing and fundraising efforts. Following the increase of social unrest that occurred with the death of George Floyd, Jacquilyn brought her passion for social justice and education to MHC by becoming an invaluable resource for staff. She created the Equity, Social Justice & Antiracism Advisory Committee (ESJA) in 2020 and then, in 2021, became MHC’s first DEI & Engagement Coordinator. In her role, Jacquilyn trains and supports MHC staff while also leading workshops and presentations for members of The MHC Collaborative, MHC’s workplace mental health program. Jacquilyn holds a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace Certificate from the University of South Florida, Muma College of Business, and the Inclusive Workplace Culture Specialty Certificate from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).