Diversity and inclusion in mental health

Throughout my life I have been an advocate for diversity and inclusivity. So much so I was able to turn my passion into a career. For the past 20 years I have been focused on leading diversity and inclusion initiatives. My current position is at Hollins University, serving as Special Advisor on Inclusivity and Diversity.

As a new resident of the Roanoke community I am actively getting to know the area. I learned about the work of Family Service when I attended a celebration program for the Positive Action and Teen Outreach program. Their initiative and passion are inspiring. As I began to learn more about their programs and impact on the community, I saw the development of an opportunity. I was stepping into an opportunity to deepen my understanding of mental health as well as how such concerns are being addressed within the community. I believe addressing these concerns are vital to the health of Roanoke.

Family Service is sensitive to the clientele they serve. They are currently working to increase diversity of staff as well as increase awareness, knowledge, and skills of the current staff so they can be even more effective. The newly formed diversity and inclusion committee on which I have the honor to serve, is one step in the direction of  Family Service achieving its goal of becoming a more diverse and inclusive organization.

Gaining more knowledge about my own culture has shown me that mental health is often overlooked in terms of diversity and inclusion. Mental health is vital to our well-being and how we show up in the world. From the way we function in relationships, organizations, and institutions. In my opinion, to be fully present and contribute to our communities, we need to be healthy and on the path to healing from past traumas.

Family Service offers an invaluable service to our community. There is often a stigma attached to seeking help for mental health concerns. This is seen more predominantly within marginalized communities. I believe managing mental health is just as important as managing physical health. Mental health should not be overlooked or minimized when addressing health concerns.  I am honored to serve an organization that is such an invaluable resource to our community.