Welcome to the 5 Things Digest from the NTTAC Equity Team, bringing you 5 Things equity leaders want you to know.

This issue of 5 Things Digest is devoted to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) leaders in the system of care, and those who support them and their well-being. This issue contains five, of many, things that many DEI leaders experience while working in organizations that serve children, youth, young adults, and families. Additional themes will most likely arise within your organization if you engage your DEI leaders, groups, and councils in thoughtful and authentic conversations. In no way should this digest be considered comprehensive in and of itself. It should be used as a conversation starter and a resource to support ongoing conversation and action.
#1: Resist tokenism.
The staff at organizations that serve children, youth, young adults, and family should be reflective of the communities being served in your system of care. When this does not occur, it increases the chances of the sole person of color becoming the representative for diversity, equity, inclusion and the spokesperson for all things related to racial and ethnically diverse populations. No group is a monolith, and each of us are unique. Please do not tokenize your staff. Hiring one or two staff members from an underrepresented group, or the presence of a senior leadership team where the DEI staff is the only person of color, is not proof that your organization is anti-racist. If that is the intent, more work is definitely needed.


A tip sheet that provides strategies to ensure young people are effectively being engaged in respectful and mutually beneficial, and are not being tokenized.

An article that provides a definition of tokenism. The article also highlights research on the prevalence and adverse impacts of tokenism on the affected individual(s) and the organization.

An article that discusses strategies and best practices for preventing (or ceasing) tokenism in organizations.

An article that highlights strategies for hiring for diversity. The goal should be to hire with the intention of fostering equity in voice, perspectives, and decisions while avoiding behaviors that force or result in assimilation.
#2: Hire and promote diverse staff.

Diversity, inclusion, and belonging are critical to achieving equity in children, youth, young adult, and family serving organizations and the broader system of care. Does your organization’s senior leadership and board look homogenous or racial and ethnically diverse? Are your racial and ethnically diverse staff relegated to entry- and mid-level positions? Do they have to assimilate in order to be acceptable for promotion? Who’s being groomed and mentored for senior leadership succession (formally or informally)? Please stop saying that you cannot find diversity for the organization. If you are truly serious and committed to diversity throughout your entire organization, engage your team in authentic discussions on why the organization is not doing well in this area, what sets the organization apart from similar organizations, and how the organization can better engage with diverse individuals and communities through partnerships and collaborations. At the same time, you just might find that the diversity you are seeking is already present and untapped!


A tool developed by the Pacific Southwest Mental Health Technology Transfer Center (MHTTC) Network to assist your organization in assessing the successes and challenges of your mental health organization in building a diverse workforce.

An article that provides strategies for partnering with Minority Serving Institutions to increase the diversity of job-posting venues, applicant engagement, and recruitment. What MSIs does your organization currently partner with?

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has committed to developing programs and resources to bring awareness to and support the needs of evolving, diverse, underrepresented, and underserved patient populations. The association is also committed to increasing the diversity of leaders and workforce in psychiatry.

A coalition of leading executives who are coming together to upskill, hire, and advance 1 million Black individuals in America over the next 10 years into family sustaining jobs with opportunities for advancement.
#3: Provide unwavering support.

The deep self-reflection and work that is needed to achieve equity is not an easy or quick process. However, equity is critical to ensure the best outcomes for children, youth, young adults, and families in the system of care. Equity is a journey filled with roses, potholes, unpaved streets, and rainbows. Throughout this journey, people will be uncomfortable, stressed, and feelings of anger, tears, denial, and guilt will surface. There will also be love, laughter, and celebrations along the way. It’s almost a guarantee that throughout your journey, people are going to disagree with the conversations that are occurring, and some may feel entitled to maintain the status quo. This discomfort is necessary for growth and development. Equity leaders need the support, participation, and leadership of CEOs, executive directors, other C-suite staff, and board members to be successful in this work. Specifically, equity leaders need your unwavering support and commitment to this journey, even when it gets tough and uncomfortable.


A movement by CEOs who are pledging to take actions that make the workplace more welcoming for all employees to feel empowered to have conversations about diversity and inclusion and a place to foster equity for all persons. How can this pledge be used within your organization? How can it be tailored for your organization’s C-suite and senior leadership teams, or maybe for use among all staff?

An article that provides strategies on ways that C-suite staff can support diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts in the workplace. The strategies are presented with a goal taking using your power to enhance the effectiveness of DEI leaders, and employee groups/councils.
#4: Support continued growth, development, and well-being.

Despite being very passionate about this work, it can be extremely exhausting for equity leaders. It’s critical for equity leaders to have time to participate in private sharing spaces with other equity leaders and accessible and adequate funding for trainings to enhance their skills. Providing space for equity leaders to process their own emotions authentically and encouraging them to take time for self-care is critical to their well-being. It is also vital to ensure the person who is supervising your equity leader(s) is self-aware, culturally responsive, and an ally who can truthfully speak to the impact of inequity, privilege, power, fragility, and racism.


An article that provides strategies to support the health and well-being of DEI leaders and practitioners. The strategies can also be used by those who supervise and support DEI staff for wellness accountability.

An article that provides strategies for preventing DEI leadership fatigue by addressing organizational culture. The Physiology of Inclusion™ (POI) is a whole-body system to improve the physical, mental, and emotional health of DEI practitioners and leaders in order to enable them to lead inclusively.

A resource list developed by the MHTTC Network. The list provides tools, products, webinars, videos, and reports on the importance of racial equity and cultural diversity, tailored to the needs of organizations working in the mental health.
#5: Fund DEI programs and initiatives.
Equity is not the responsibility of a single individual or group. Equity should not just be a focus during tragedies or cultural observances. Equity should be the foundation of your children-, youth-, and young adult-serving organization. It should be the platform upon which all of its policies, principles, programs, services, and interactions are developed. Achieving true equity is the responsibility of the entire organization, which includes all staff, board members, funders, vendors, and community partnerships. Having employee DEI committees, employee resource groups, and board-level DEI committees is critical to the organization achieving its goals, and it ensures that DEI is a constant priority. How are you funding your organization’s DEI work? Can you identify innovative ways to fund your organization’s DEI work? How can you involve children, youth, young adults and their families in the process? Funding should include compensation upon which DEI staff can not only live but thriveI ; costs for training; materials; subject matter experts and consultants; and support for other identified DEI necessities.


An article that highlights the importance of workplace DEI initiatives and programs. It also provides data to support its positive impact in the workplace.

An article developed by the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) that provides eight steps for developing DEI initiatives that meet compliance obligations and increase the overall bottom line with a more diverse, equitable and inclusive workforce.

A toolkit that contains strategies implemented by the University of Michigan to develop a DEI budget by ensuring that DEI efforts are embedded, linked, and financed by each department.
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Disclaimer: The views, opinions, and content expressed in this email do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or policies of the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).