Dr. Tina Thomas, currently serves as the Vaccine Equity Officer and Coordinator of Special Programs Health Services at the Local Behavioral Health division of the Wicomico Health Department. She has dedicated most of her career to break down barriers and expand access to equitable healthcare for vulnerable populations in rural communities. She has worked and lectured in the healthcare sector for over 8 years assisting the homeless, helpless, disadvantage youth, older adults, and minorities. She sits on varies committees, workgroups, and taskforce to review current data and policies in order to achieve health equity and drive future decision making and legislation. She is committed to changing the face of healthcare through quality improvement, transparency, effective communication, research, transformative leadership, and strategic planning. Dr. Tina Thomas is an emerging leader, teacher and motivational speaker focused on the future- enthusiastic, innovative, dedicated, and passionate. Dr. Thomas is looking to expand her reach, share knowledge and grow as a leader.
Today is a momentous day. But let’s be honest. For many of us it has become just another day off. Reflecting on the life of Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. and connecting his dreams and legacy to CBHL seemed difficult at first. Additional reflection revealed a natural connection. As an undergrad I worked in Dayton, Ohio as an administrative assistant for the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance (IMA) / Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). A college friend recommended me for the position, which I only viewed as way to pay for tuition and books.
Several times a month, I answered calls from Rev. Dr. Joseph Lowery and other prominent civil rights era leaders, which were met by me with a naïve “please hold” and “connecting you now.” You see, SCLC was established in 1957 and Dr. King served as its first president. I had no clue of Dr. Lowery’s legendary status and no idea who I was speaking to at the time. I also remember typing and making copies for SCLC meetings that included the chief of police, county commissioners and other elected officials, and members of Dayton’s Black clergy. I remember seeing the words “consent decree” on documents and vaguely recalled news stories of investigations into racial discrimination in police hiring practices.
I regret that I didn’t know to pay closer attention then. I wish I could go back and thank all the visitors to the office who made a point of stopping to chat with me at the front desk to ask me what I was majoring in, giving me best wishes for the future, and telling me to,“Keep your head up.” I didn’t appreciate the example of leadership and courage that I was witnessing on a daily basis. And I certainly didn’t know to celebrate the victories of police reform, let alone connect any of that work to Dr. King. Today I know better.
I am honored and humbled to be reminded that CBHL also seeks to uplift, empower, and encourage behavioral health leaders at all levels. While we will be announcing details more formally later this month, I am proud to share that we are actively working with partners to develop an Equity-Grounded Leadership Fellow Program. Our call to action is a shift in leadership focus to equity and anti-racism as the foundation for behavioral health systems transformation. The program will cultivate a deep understanding of how inequity is perpetuated by and in the behavioral health system; support all leaders to step into their own voice, courage, and power; empower new leaders to thrive as change agents to unravel systemic racism and inequity; and prepare leaders to take measurable action to create equitable systems.
I am grateful for the leadership of each of you, and in honor of Dr. King’s leadership, encourage us all to lead from a foundation of equity.
Alicia D. Smith, MHA, President of the Board of Directors
The College for Behavioral Health Leadership
Please join me in welcoming Ashley Bennett, graduate intern for CBHL! Ashley will be working with us for the next several months to develop an emerging leader outreach and engagement plan. She will also support research and planning for our Equity-Grounded Leadership Fellow Program. Ashley has numerous professional accomplishments already, as you’ll see in her bio below. She is now transitioning into healthcare project management with goals to focus on operations, strategic planning and process improvement, while addressing equity and inclusion, and outreach and engagement in the healthcare realm.
While in high school, Ashley became an Emergency Medical Technician right after 9/11 and discovered her passion to serve others. A graduate of Rutgers University, with a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Organizational Leadership. Ashley became a Ronald E. McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement Program Scholar and completed original research and presented at the McNair Conference at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.
She went on to pursue graduate degrees at Georgian Court University and Fielding Graduate University earning a M.A. in Community Counseling and Certificate in Clinical Psychology.. While serving as project leader in The Forensic Neuropsychology Research as a Research Assistant. During this time she has presented original research at both the Association for Psychological Science and the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies National Conferences.
Ashley has been in the mental health field for a decade and currently works as a frontline mental health worker as psychiatric emergency screener in a local emergency room conducting mental health assessments and links those with services. Deciding to broaden her journey in healthcare, Ashley started an additional graduate degree in Public Health with plans to get involved with Health Equity, Policy and Social Determinants of Health.
A passionate believer in policies that truly benefit everyone and strong advocate for education, healthcare, disadvantaged communities, and social justice. Having served in leadership in various capacities, Ashley is the former County Commissioner of District 3 of Atlantic County, New Jersey,where she became the first female, African American and Democrat to hold her seat in Atlantic County’s history. Ashley has been featured in national and international media outlets, and a former featured speaker at the 2018 televised Women’s March in New York City. In January of 2018, Ashley along with a number of women running for office graced the cover of TIME magazine.
Truly committed to board service, while in office, Ashley served as the Liaison to the Atlantic County Youth Services Commission and Library Advisory Commission, National Association of Counties Human Services and Education Steering Committee for 2019 and 2020. A 2018 New Leaders Council Fellow, and advisory board chair for the South Jersey Young Dems Black Caucus. She was recognized for her leadership and service by The Root.com , naming her to their 100 influential African Americans of 2018. She is a 2019 Shirley Chisholm Breakthrough Leadership Award recipient, presented at the 2019 Summit for Civil Rights. Ashley served as secretary on the executive board for the Southern New Jersey Freeholder Association, the first all women bipartisan board. Her political story is profiled in the books, “Why I Run”, “Women and Politics: Paths to Power and Political Influence 4th ed” & Rebecca Traister’s book “Good & Mad.”
Ashley ended her political term in 2020 after a brief Congressional run. She is currently finishing her degree in Public Health and transitioning into healthcare project management with goals to focus on operations, strategic planning, and process improvement.
Take a look at Ashley’s resume here.
New online modules focus on an equitable approach and rapid strategy development
Suicide is preventable. Unfortunately, over the past 16 months, younger adults, people of color, essential workers, and unpaid caregivers have reported increased thoughts of suicide. Emerging data shows a spike in suicide rates among Black Americans in certain locales and increased emergency department visits for suspected suicide attempts among young people. These and other populations are of growing concern as communities identify those at elevated risk of suicide and endeavor to counteract social isolation, financial stress, racism, and community trauma.
To support communities in planning a comprehensive, multi-sector response to these crises, Prevention Institute partnered with the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) to develop a prevention toolkit.
The toolkit shares strategies for preventing suicide and trauma during catastrophic events like the COVID-19 pandemic, hurricanes, storms, or other disasters. It also includes online-learning modules; suicide-prevention planning interviews with agency leaders in Colorado and Santa Clara County, CA; a new social media video about Building Healing Communities; and an activity booklet that brings together concepts from Modules 1 through 4.
The newest modules support communities to
- Understand recent national trends and use interactive tools to identify local communities at elevated risk for suicide.
- Explore promising interventions addressing the unique needs of communities at high-risk.
- Understand how the CDC’s technical package and other tools and frameworks can support suicide-prevention efforts.
- Rapidly assess local fit and feasibility of best available evidence from CDC’s technical package during catastrophic events and beyond.
The toolkit also includes multimedia resources on social connection and trauma-informed systems.
On social connection
Rates of social isolation are soaring around the world, with profound impacts on health and wellbeing. As the world heals, how can we weave stronger connections among families, neighborhoods, and communities? We need community-led solutions focused on local talents and assets and rooted in community cultures and values. PI’s most recent short video, based on Healthy Places by Design’s Socially Connected Communities: Solutions for Social Isolation, shows how communities can improve social connection.
For more on the link between social connection and preventing suicide and Adverse Childhood Experiences, including examples of how organizations have fostered connection during the pandemic, check out Strengthening social connections to prevent suicide and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs): Actions and opportunities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On systems change
By integrating trauma-informed practices to change public systems, local government agencies are addressing the needs of the community and essential workers in ways that can last beyond the pandemic. Check out PI’s latest brief, Prioritizing equity and community wellbeing in the wake of catastrophic events, to read about examples in Baltimore, Tarpon Springs, Houston, and San Francisco.
Prevention Institute’s multimedia resources focus on preventing trauma and suicide during catastrophic events, and include webinar recordings and other materials on supporting youth, addressing social isolation, advancing healing-centered systems, and prioritizing equity in COVID-19 recovery.
This work is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The toolkit is supported by Cooperative Agreement No. 6 NU38OT000305-02-03 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Department of Health and Human Services, or the CDC.
*Photo credit CC by sdttds
The College for Behavioral Health Leadership (CBHL) is proud to join the Central East Addiction Technology Transfer Center (Central East ATTC), funded by SAMHSA, to develop an evidence-based report describing and defining equity-grounded leadership for Health and Human Services (HHS) Region 3 behavioral health leaders HHS Region 3 states include Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. The Central East ATTC is a technical assistance program under the auspices of The Danya Institute.
CBHL is partnering with Just Health Collective, a consulting and advisory services firm committed to building a healthcare system that is fair, impartial and representative of its community – giving employees a sense of inclusiveness, consumers a sense of trust and everyone the opportunity to achieve good health. CBHL is also partnering with Prevention Institute, a national nonprofit working to build prevention and health equity into key policies and actions at the federal, state, local and organizational level, in the development of this report.
Racial inequities are pervasive in the behavioral health system. Structural racism is one of the underlying reasons we see vast differences in social and health outcomes between communities today. Compounding this is that leadership in behavioral health often does not reflect the population served. Leaders of color report a need for intentional focus on equity and anti-racism, trusted leaders in positions of influence, and mentorship to develop leaders who embody equity and represent the communities served.
This evolution in leadership culture is stymied, however, by workforce shortages and high turnover. Seasoned leaders are stepping down, and new leaders are stepping into positions of influence, but often without the skillset and confidence needed to advance anti-racism and health equity. The result is status quo. To pave the way for new solutions, our focus must be on developing trusted leaders who will disrupt traditional interventions and strategies and effectively engage with communities of color. We must focus on developing equity grounded leaders.
The report will cover the following:
- What is equity grounded leadership?
- Why is equity important as a foundation for leadership?
- Relevant facts and statistics from HHS Region 3 states
- Themes from interviews and facilitated dialogue with Region 3 leaders
- Recommendations for state and federal policymakers.
To stay up to date and receive a copy of the report, visit the CBHL website at www.leaders4health.org and click “Join our Mailing List” at the bottom of the homepage. For information on how to join CBHL, click here for Membership Options. To learn more about The Danya Institute, Inc. Technology Transfer Program, click here.
For more information on equity-grounded leadership, contact Holly Salazar, CBHL CEO, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A new year. A new administration. A behavioral health pandemic within a lingering COVID pandemic. Struggling communities. A renewed sense of urgency.
On January 28, The College for Behavioral Health Leadership (CBHL) hosted an important leadership conversation: Behavioral Health and the New Administration – A Call to Action. This dialogue featured five multi-sector senior leaders from the behavioral health field addressing major needs and key challenges that face the new Biden-Harris administration, and the potential roles the new administration could serve in helping to address these needs. The summary of this conversation identifies key themes and outlines opportunity for further discussion and action.
I invite you to review the recording of the conversation and summary report here. As a neutral convener, the College for Behavioral Health Leadership is in a unique position to lead future dialogue to sharpen the concept of controversial or underdeveloped issues to work toward a common understanding. Stay tuned for updates on future events to be scheduled, where we will dive deeper into 3-4 high priority topics. They will also be posted here on our website as dates are confirmed.
f you have questions or comments, please feel free to email Holly at email@example.com.
Holly Salazar | CEO | The College for Behavioral Health Leadership
The College for Behavioral Health Leadership Signs Historic Mental Health 7-Pillar Roadmap to Stem Crisis in Mental Health and Substance Use Care
Roadmap for Recovery Includes Focus on Early Intervention, Emergency Crisis Response, Leveling of Racial and Economic Inequalities in Health Care, Parity in Payment by Health Insurance Plans, Among Other Core Issues
February 25, 2021 – The College for Behavioral Health Leadership (CBHL) today announced that it has signed onto an historic mental health and substance use care roadmap for accelerating effective mental health care as the nation struggles to weather and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The roadmap – titled A Unified Vision for Transforming Mental Health and Substance Use Care – calls for policy, programs and standards that prioritize mental health care and address the social and economic conditions – including racism and discrimination – that disproportionately impact people of color and people whose incomes are below the federal poverty threshold, and result in inadequate and inequitable access to effective, humane treatment.
“The importance of aligning agendas and working together across sectors cannot be understated if we are to make real changes to our mental health and substance use care system. The systemic transformation we are embarking on will take a new kind of leader – prepared to innovate, transform and lead us into the future. CBHL is pleased to support the Unified Vision and stand ready to take the important steps in actualizing it.” – Holly Salazar, CEO, The College for Behavioral Health leadership
A collaboration of mental health and substance use disorder organizations – the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the Massachusetts Association for Mental Health, Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute, Mental Health America, the National Association for Behavioral Healthcare, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the National Council for Behavioral Health, One Mind, Peg’s Foundation, the Steinberg Institute, The Kennedy Forum, the Treatment Advocacy Center and Well Being Trust – developed the roadmap as a response to the pandemic, which has greatly exacerbated the fault lines in an already fractured mental health system and heightened mental health issues across our nation – including anxiety, depression, isolation, addiction, domestic abuse, and suicide.
In welcoming CBHL as the newest signatory to the Unified Vision statement, co-convener of the group that drove the roadmap Tyler Norris from Well Being Trust said: “Accomplishing real, substantive change to our country’s mental health care system is a significant undertaking, one that will require collaboration and coordination from all involved in the sector. No one person or organization can do it alone, and the collaboration is looking to prompt discussion and forge partnerships that will ultimately transform the future of mental health care in the United States. We welcome this critical show of support for our mission from our most recent signees.”
Just as the public health care system was unprepared for a pandemic, an unprecedented mental health crisis afflicting half of all Americans has overwhelmed the mental health care system. Since the onset of the pandemic, prevalence of depression symptoms have jumped three-fold, overdose deaths have increased in 40 states, and the CDC reports that 25 percent of young adults struggle with suicidal ideation.
The strategic plan offers tried-and-tested “pathways for success” across seven critical policy areas identified as:
- Early identification and prevention, especially for families and young people;
- Rapid deployment of emergency crisis response and suicide prevention;
- Leveling inequities in access to care;
- Establishing integrated health and mental health care to ensure “whole-person” well-being;
- Achieving parity in payment by health plans for mental health and substance-use coverage;
- Assuring evidence-based standards of treatments and care; and,
- Engaging a diverse mental health care workforce, peer support and community-based programs.
Included in the vision is a detailed proposal for how the new Administration, Congress, Governors and state and local lawmakers must work in tandem with the business community and the non-profit sector to promote systemic changes in the mental health care system.
Among the seven suggestions are a number of ideas that can be implemented quickly, such as, embracing telehealth, and implementing strategic shifts to early intervention that can help provide relief by bringing telehealth outside of a clinical setting – and into schools, community centers, prisons; fast-tracking new emergency response systems, such as the new “988” National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, for immediate access on mobile carriers; and, engaging a diverse mental health care workforce, providing additional support means by expanding access to peer support groups and community based programs.
Yesterday marked the first day of Black History Month, a time to celebrate the achievements of Black Americans – including the unsung heroes whose names we may not know but for whom we are indebted – and to recognize their important role in our history.
As I reflect on past years’ Black History Month events, I think of cultural celebrations, recognition of famous and accomplished Black Americans, and reminders of the important history in our not so distant past.
This year, I am struck by the profound and rapid change we are experiencing in how we think and talk about equity in both our personal and professional lives.
This year, I challenge us to focus on the work we are doing from within to inspire and elevate the voices of Black Americans already working alongside us. I challenge us to promote and encourage engagement of emerging Black leaders in our programs and planning and to listen and respond to Black voices with intention and integrity. I challenge us to differentiate ourselves as leaders in behavioral health so that future generations of accomplished Black leaders thrive in organizations and communities that more closely reflect those we serve.
I personally commit to each of these challenges with greater intention – I would love to hear from you how CBHL can support your own commitments.
Holly Salazar | CEO
Dear CBHL Colleagues,
It is with great pleasure the CBHL Board of Directors would like to announce a significant change to our infrastructure.
Since inception in 1979, CBHL has operated under a model of contracted services – where staff and support positions functioned as independent contractors to support the work of the organization.
As we position ourselves for the future to support our behavioral health leaders and the communities we serve, we want to reinforce our commitment to the advancement of our vision and mission. To do this, our Board of Directors unanimously voted to approve the following actions:
- Transition from contracted staff to employed staff
- Convert the Director of Operations position to Chief Executive Officer.
We are happy to announce that Holly Salazar, currently serving as Director of Operations, will serve as the CBHL Chief Executive Officer, effective Friday, January 22, 2021.
We are thrilled with this organizational change and look forward to a productive 2021. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.
Thank you all for your commitment to CBHL.
Wendy Varnell, President, CBHL Board of Directors
After a long election night, it is clear that we continue to be a country that is divided. As a result, we thought it critical to share an update on our commitment at CBHL to address systemic racism and openly discuss and acknowledge the impact this has on our communities. We are writing today to give you an update on our work.
When the CBHL Board of Directors met in June to determine the action we would commit to taking to address systemic racism, we began by acknowledging that racism is baked into the core of the United States and that we were each committed to addressing the impact of racism, class, and privilege on our communities, especially among communities of color. We also acknowledged the need to articulate and communicate values of social justice and equity as the core of all of our initiatives, to host difficult conversations and consider the compounding impacts of racism and white supremacy on our work, and to remember not to over-complicate, but to start somewhere.
As a Board we discussed specific potential opportunities for organizational commitment, but realized that we didn’t know exactly where to start, and struggled a bit to determine the best course of action. It was this realization that prompted us to – as a first and immediate step – engage a consultant to help clarify how we as a Board and an organization would take action to adequately and appropriately address racism as the primary root cause of inequity in health, social and wellbeing outcomes, ground our strategies with a focus on achieving equity and reducing disparities, and share our learnings and opportunities for transformation across disciplines with members.
We held two affinity groups among board members and a workshop – Exploring Whiteness and Systemic Racism – over the last few months, and have made an organizational commitment to continuing this work. As we engage with our members and launch new initiatives – including the creation of our Center for Leadership Innovation – we are committed to supporting and developing leaders committed to creating equitable systems for all.
We look forward to sharing more about our work to address racism in the coming months. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to Holly or to one of us with your thoughts, concerns, or questions.
Wendy Varnell, LCSW, CBHL Board President
Alicia Smith, MHA, CBHL Board President-Elect
COVID-19 and new attention to the effects of racism have reinforced that Partnering with Communities to Improve Health Outcomes is more important than ever for health care leaders. Thus, it is with great enthusiasm we announce our 2020 signature offering will be going virtual in a new and exciting format this year! The 2020 Un-Summit: A Leadership Forum is a 9-week series of live, interactive and on-demand events held September 24 through November 19, 2020.
The Un-Summit is a robust virtual learning package designed for busy leaders to learn together, develop new connections and build resilience as we tackle the most pressing issues facing the health of our communities today. The Un-Summit will be dynamic, interactive and flexible to spur bold ideas and actions to tackle the most pressing issues facing the health of our communities today.
While our understanding of the content will build sequentially through the series, we recognize the time constraints on leaders in today’s environment and have created both optional and core content with pathways for participants to “catch up” via recorded and on-demand events.
The Un-Summit will kick off on Thursday, September 24 with our Opening Session 12-1pm EST, followed by a keynote address 1:30-2:15pm EST with Tyler Norris, MDiv, Chief Executive of Well Being Trust, an impact philanthropy with a mission to advance the mental, social and spiritual health of the nation.
Registration opens later this month – check out our website for more information. We look forward to learning together with you!
Holly Salazar | Director of OperationsThe College for Behavioral Health Leadership
A Statement from the College for Behavioral Health Leadership (CBHL)
The killing of Mr. George Floyd has once again brought into stark reality the undeniable impact of racism in the United States. The ingrained racism in our society contributes not only to deaths in the criminal justice system, but also hurts the health and wellness of communities of color through disparities in health care, housing, education, employment, income and neighborhood quality of life.
The College for Behavioral Health Leadership (CBHL) is a place where leaders collaborate to help communities across the nation improve behavioral health wellness and address health inequity. CBHL condemns all acts of unequal treatment of Black, Brown and other communities of color. We recognize the rage and helplessness that has led to rioting. We are committed to working in partnership with our Board, staff and members to ensure that the work of CBHL promotes an understanding of and attention to eliminating systemic racism and subsequent health inequity.
We hope that you join us in this important cause.
Yours in peace,
The CBHL Board of Directors
I am thrilled to introduce our new website – same URL – different look and functionality!
New features include:
- A fresh, modern look and feel
- Easy to navigate features, including an events calendar for public facing and members only events in both list and calendar format
- Up to date resources including searchable and sortable webinar and summit archives, relevant links, and COVID-19 resources
- Membership registration and event registration with seamless checkout features
- A new members-only page featuring members only features, including:
- A robust, easy to use CBHL Directory and Directory Map, to easily find CBHL colleagues and to learn more about their interests, areas of expertise, and geographic locations
- Access to members-only events and conversations to take advantage of CBHL membership
- All recent member updates to reduce the need to search your inbox for new information
- An account page with easy to update membership information
- And more!
Are you a current CBHL Member? Click here for further instructions on updating your account.
We encourage you to look around our website and as always, if you have questions or would like to schedule a conversation to learn more, feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.