How Diversity Impacts Mental Health Treatment

June 24, 2021 | Mental Health Awareness

Mental illness impacts specific patient populations in different ways. A diverse workforce of behavioral health professionals that embraces equity and illustrates inclusion can foster a more empathetic and effective treatment approach to meet the unique needs of different populations.


It is the most compelling reason why diversity and inclusion practices within behavioral health organizations are so valuable.


A close second? The knowledge that the demand for care is continuing to grow and based on the disproportionate impact 2020 had on minority populations in particular, a diverse staff of providers that understands those challenges could elevate the level of care a patient will receive.


Diversity can be easily defined as “variety.” And on a deeper level, that definition expands to encompass the practice or quality of including or involving people from a range of different social and ethnic backgrounds of different genders and sexual orientations.


It means diversity is, well, diverse itself — spanning generations, race, religion, sexual orientation, social circles and even economics. Understanding those differences, and relating to them in an earned, experienced way creates invaluable connections particularly at a time when the country is processing significant stressors related to politics, economics and movements for social progress.


For example, citing a Mind Share Partners report, Forbes magazine reported that Millennials were 3.5 times more likely than Boomers to say their work environment influenced their mental health symptoms — which is to say, everyone’s experience is unique and different based on their background or circumstance. When it comes to the workplace, a commitment to diversity and inclusion practices seems to shift with the times.


A recent report released by Glassdoor indicated that employers culled more than 60% of diversity-related job titles at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic only to see them fill most of those positions again following the death of George Floyd. So, consistent support around diversity and inclusion in the workplace is hard to find, placing the onus even more so on the behavioral health community.


At innovaTel, our providers complete cultural competence training annually because we understand how important it is for our psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners and licensed clinical social workers to empathetically relate to and effectively provide care to the patients they are treating.


At NatCon 2021, innovaTel’s Dr. McNeil — who co-chairs innovaTel’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee, presented on this very topic, revealing that diversity initiatives within the behavioral health community result in better outcomes, better employee satisfaction, decreased costs and increased trust and engagement. Further, her report cited research that indicated our population will grow over the next decade, it will get older as generations age, and racial proportions will shift thanks to growth among minority populations.


All of it points to an increasingly urgent need to diversify a behavioral health workforce to more appropriately relate to the patient populations it is treating — or expand upon current diversity and inclusion initiatives.


To learn how innovaTel can support the diversification of your organization’s treatment team, schedule a meeting.

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