Diversity Matters in Mental Health Treatment
Any quality healing environment for adolescents must be physically and emotionally safe, inclusive and must strive toward cultural competence. To this end, Paradigm Treatment participated in informational and experiential diversity training, presented by Diversity Matters.
The leadership and staff engaged in exploring the intersection of mental health and various aspects of diversity – race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic class, and culture. The training provided the team with opportunities to explore unconscious assumptions, personal values, implicit biases and the unintended impact on the provision of client-centered, individualized treatment delivery.
The staff training was complemented by a youth diversity session in which youth actively participated in an exploration of the role of human differences in their lives and interpersonal relationships. The youth session culminated with their own guidelines for safety and respect; a collective unpacking of behaviors, language, stereotypes, miscues, and concepts of respect. Encouraged to make connections for themselves, the youth were invited to explore the impact of diversity related issues – from racial slurs to social exclusion – on their mental wellness and identity development.
According to Dr. Jeff Nalin, Co-Founder of Paradigm Treatment Centers, “This training is especially important for those of us working in the field of teen mental health. A sense of equality and inclusion is often elusive or missing for those struggling with mental and/or behavioral health issues. Isolation, distorted self-consciousness, and core “otherness” are often experienced with depression, anxiety, eating disorders or substance abuse, and can be particularly severe in adolescence.”
Dr. Nalin adds, “Most often, conversations of equality, inclusion and diversity are focused on protected classes of race, national origin and gender and less often on mental health. We all need to do our part to make mental health part of the conversation.”
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