It’s Not Only About Knowledge. It’s About Action.
In her “Race 101” lecture, Activist Rachel Cargle expresses a short but effective lesson to the ongoing revolution in our country: "Knowledge plus empathy plus action. If you take any one away, you’re performing.”
It is ineffective to learn about systemic oppression if empathy and action are not also extended. It is nothing more than a performance to voice empathy for anti-racism on social media and take no further action. The indisputable lesson remains: actions speak louder than words. We know this because we have said it (sometimes daily) to our patients who are here at ERC | Pathlight. As our patients commit to recovery, we commit to ensuring that all of our patients, staff and community feel fully supported and understood as diverse and unique individuals, and to continuously foster an environment of diversity and inclusion.
In response to the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and others, along with many other longstanding injustices, ERC | Pathlight voiced its unconditional support of the anti-racist movement. We say it again: Black Lives Matter. We strongly reject racism, hate, and discrimination, as they run counter to what is good and ethical, and clearly stand in opposition to ERC | Pathlight's core values. But believing in values is never sufficient. We are committed to learning what changes we can make to ensure that we as an organization fully live up to our values that include non-discrimination, inclusion and respect for diversity.
This requires us to look toward how we can be better, to educate ourselves more deeply and ask our teammates and patients how we can best support them and tangibly help dismantle systemic oppression in our mental health systems and beyond. With open ears, we continue to listen to our teammates’ suggestions and feedback. We thank them. We will continue to listen. We will continue to learn. And also, now is the time we will begin to act.
In the upcoming year and beyond, we invite you to witness, support, and step up with us in the following ways:
1. Support our ERC | Pathlight Black Teammates
Mental health professionals are not immune to mental health conditions. Through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), ERC | Pathlight will provide additional counseling opportunities to help teammates address the racially motivated traumas they are experiencing or have experienced in their lives.
Over the longer term, ERC | Pathlight will engage with a Diversity, Equality & Inclusion consultant to help advise the company across a spectrum of areas to help us identify, prioritize and action areas that can enhance our workforce diversity and experience.
2. Support Mental Health Nonprofit Work for Black Communities
ERC | Pathlight teammates strongly voiced a desire to engage in fundraising for Black communities and anti-racism causes. To amplify the generosity, the Eating Recovery Foundation will match all received donations up to $50,000 to one or two identified mental/behavioral health nonprofits that specifically serve the needs of Black communities. Staff will vote and choose the organizations that will receive these funds in the upcoming weeks.
3. Implement Practices that Further Ingrain Inclusivity and Diversity into Company Culture
Currently, ERC | Pathlight is developing “Diversity, Equality & Inclusion” training for all center and corporate staff. This will not be run of the mill training. Teammates are in the midst of exploring options and collecting resources to ensure training will allow for education and thoughtful and critical discussion on an array of subjects that include uncovering unconscious bias, and how unintended acts of bias and exclusion show up in the workplace and in our personal lives. Teammates have been encouraged to submit suggestions for consideration.
Within America, varying statistics report that mental health professionals of color only make up 10-15% of the entire industry. Moving forward, we will evolve ERC | Pathlight recruitment programs, starting with widening our inclusion of historically black colleges and universities, as well as regional colleges and universities with more diverse student populations. This will aid in promoting more diverse hires among clinicians, therapists and staff.
4. Modify Patient Care to Better Serve BIPOC Patients
Thanks to wonderful staff, ERC | Pathlight has implemented immediate action to patient care by adding a new, ongoing virtual mental health support group for people of color. This group will take place every Monday at 7 p.m. ET, beginning June 15, 2020 and will be a safe space where attendees can feel supported without feeling the need to explain their experiences. Tatum Carter, MA, Alumni & Family Liaison, will lead the group, and it is open to both alumni and community members who are 18 and older.
The effective nature of support groups are strengthened by feedback and suggestions from alumni, family members, community and patients. Further feedback for how our providers can better serve BIPOC patients are needed and welcomed. Click here for more information.
5. Mental Health Care Advocacy
We will advocate for improved awareness of community mental health needs and access to care for Black communities. This includes being vocal advocates for mental health needs and barriers related to care access for BIPOC communities, and helping to provide tools to our teammates and community to help further those efforts. We are only as strong in our mission as we are inclusive, and ERC | Pathlight social media platforms reach around the globe. We owe it to ourselves and to our patients and audience.
Join us in listening, seeking to understand and making actionable steps towards inclusivity. Simple ways to make positive change include:
- Copy and paste book recommendations, podcasts, videos and lectures in a note in your phone so you don’t overwhelm yourself with trying to learn everything all at once.
- Commit to a tangible (and realistic) timeline of learning and personal activism.
- Lean into self-care because without it you risk both recovery and lasting growth.
- Take inspiration from those in recovery to remind yourself that growing and unlearning is a marathon, not a sprint. It is never ending, and always capable of evolution.
Please, stay fierce in your mental health journey. Be committed to your learning. This revolution and world needs you in it. We will be there with you, walking the path.
Your ERC | Pathlight Team