What Does Anti-Racism Work Look Like in Behavioral Health Care?

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WellPower is committed to ending the discrimination and racism that runs throughout our society. In a world where we are constantly exposed to news, social media and rapid sharing of information, it can be hard to see the strides we make as a community in our anti-racism work.

July is also BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) Mental HealthMonth, which recognizes the unique mental health challenges and needs that People of Color face within the United States. As a community behavioral health center in Denver, WellPower fills a critical role in addressing and dismantling systems of oppression that have and continue to create barriers to care among BIPOC communities.

Here are a few ways we’ve shown up to break down these systemic barriers, as well as promote equitable living for our staff:

TherapyDirect Launched to the Community

We understand that part of our anti-racism work involves addressing challenges to behavioral health care access, such as cost and transportation. Our TherapyDirect program offers three, 55-minute online therapy sessions to anyone 18 years and over in the Denver area, at no cost to them.

When these obstacles to care are removed, people can shift from thinking about getting help to receiving care more quickly. You can read more about the program launch here.

$50,000 Minimum Wage at WellPower

Part of breaking down systemic racism is ensuring that everyone who works at WellPower has a living wage. We saw an opportunity to begin changing the behavioral health care system from the inside, starting with supporting our staff in a measurable way.

Setting a minimum salary of $50,000 is a critical step in our anti-racism work, because it ensures our staff are taken care of, no matter what position they have at WellPower.

According to the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, “Increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour, for example, would increase the earnings of 38.1 percent of Black workers, compared to 23.2 percent of White workers.”

By creating a minimum living wage of $24.04 per hour for all staff at WellPower, we are working towards an equitable future for all our staff.

Internal Operations

Anti-racism work must start with our staff if we’re going to be able to provide culturally conscious services to our community. Some of the internal work we’ve done is:

  • Hiring Process – We adjusted our job posting questions to ensure they’re culturally sensitive, as well as developing three universal Diversity, Equity & Inclusiveness (DEI) questions.  
  • Support of Black Employees – We launched a Black Employee Support Group led by our Employee Assistance Program and established a Black Caucus.
  • Manager/ Leader Education – 120 managers participated in Unconscious Bias, Equity and Microaggressions training in late 2020. Our Board of Directors participated in a four-part DEI training series to better support our organization in this work. 
  • Employee Education – The DEI Team offered a series of trainings and discussions to educate staff around various DEI related topics.
  • Juneteenth – We added Juneteenth as a paid holiday in 2021 to honor this longstanding and important celebration of Black history and culture.

We know our work is far from over – it’s an ongoing effort. The strides and changes we’ve made as an organization are steppingstones in a long road ahead. As we continue to move forward in our commitment to ending discrimination and racism, we look forward to providing more updates in the future.