Change Begins With Us: You and Me

What we are currently witnessing, across the country, regarding the recent incidents of racism and historical racial trauma is not something that is new. What feels to be “new” is the push and commitment for a collective response to dismantling years of systemic racism in this country. As an organization that is committed to bringing families back together and standing behind the core pillars of identity, family, resilience and vision, this particular moment in our lives has catapulted us as an organization to reflect, acknowledge, and take action.

During our process of reflection, it has become glaringly obvious that in order for us to move forward and take action, we must first acknowledge our role in not having done enough and accept the hard truth that in our “unknowing”, we have caused unintended distress for the black and brown students and staff who have been a part of our program. This can be hard to sit with and we, as an organization, have committed to not allowing this hard truth to cripple us from moving forward. Rather, we wish to invite other wilderness therapy and residential treatment programs to join us in acknowledgment of this truth, commit to understanding the individual and programatic work that is necessary to decrease trauma, and step into action.

What we have been discussing as an organization, is that while we have put certain plans in motion, we hear the feedback from those who are impacted when they express that our efforts have not been enough. In order to find true resolution and sustained progress, there is great importance in taking time to:

LISTEN to the voices of those who have been impacted
BELIEVE the voices of those who have been impacted
INCLUDE individuals who have been impacted in the process of creating strategic plans to bring resolution

While we understand how the process and plans involved in systems change can and need to evolve, we at outBACK have committed to taking the following actions:

◇ Work with Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Consultants to assess, evaluate, and create strategic plans to institutionalize our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion

◇ Utilize our DEI Accountability Team ( Diversity, Equity, Inclusion) to ensure that our work is rooted in equity for our Black, Indigenous, People of Color, and LGBTQIA+ communities

◇ Employee Resource Groups: Multiple Group Options
>>> Hosting optimal spaces for staff whose identities include BIPOC to be in community, share lived experiences, process, and heal
>>> Hosting optimal spaces for staff whose identities include LGBTQIA+ to be in community, share lived experiences, process, and heal
>>> Hosting optimal spaces for all outBACK staff to gather as a community and engage in meaningful dialogue, discussions, and ongoing education regarding Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

◇ Examine unconscious bias through readings, discussions, and trainings for clinicians and senior management team

◇ Access to an Inclusion & Belonging Specialist for:
>>> Parents/guardians during Admissions Process
>>> Primary therapists during case consultations

As a leading organization in Mental Healthcare, we understand that we have a responsibility to uphold and that the world is watching. The world is watching to see what and how we respond to the concerns that are facing us in this very moment. We wholeheartedly believe that in order to stay the course, we must hold fast to our belief and commitment to incorporating this work into our WHY, our purpose. In doing so, it becomes a natural part of our sustained culture.

With care, consideration, and compassion,

outBACK Therapeutic Expeditions Team


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