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A PRODUCTIVE AND HAPPY LIFE
IS NOT SOMETHING YOU FIND;
IT IS SOMETHING YOU MAKE.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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HEALING OUR HEALERS

In 2021, we identified the critical need to prioritize staff health and wellness. We must heal our healers. Thanks to a grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, we created our Behavioral Health and Wellness initiative.

 

This essential program has a dual purpose:

  1. Increase staff wellness and resiliency against the impact of trauma, which will in turn,

  2. Increase staff’s capacity to provide in-house behavioral health and wellness services directly to participants.

 

We strive to heal our courageous staff as they faithfully work to heal others.

People can go on a very long time appearing to be well when they are very broken inside. We need to be cognizant of that as people are being immersed in violence.

Selwyn O. Rogers, M.D., Nonviolence Chicago Board Co-Vice Chair

Frontline workers are from the communities they serve, and many have been either victims of or lost someone close to them to gun violence. Several still carry the weight of past trauma. We have a moral responsibility to take care of them. We must address the continuous trauma.

CREATING A CULTURE OF WELLNESS

The best thing we can do to reduce violence is to take better care of our staff.  The healthier they are, the more effective they can be. And it’s the right thing

to do.

Kelly Carroll, Associate Director of Behavioral Health & Wellness

Our Behavioral Health and Wellness team as well as our internal Wellness Committee champion staff wellness at all levels of the organization. To reduce the impact of trauma, they promote safe spaces and create a culture of wellness through education, support, and advocacy.

The Wellness Committee, comprised of staff from all departments and roles, is responsible for researching and vetting various therapeutic resources and coordinating wellness events, such as Wellness Fairs and retreats. They have introduced staff and participants to yoga, massage, Reiki, music, art, and aroma therapy, advice from medical and health experts, and more. The Committee also acts as an advisor and driver of policy changes and organizational interventions that prioritize staff wellness and trauma-informed care.

SUPPORTED BY RESEARCH

Outreach workers’ lived experience is full of trauma. We need to revisit our policies and procedures to ensure that we are providing trauma responsive systems to everything that
we are doing.

Lisa Stephens, COO

This is a complex wellness initiative that has been developing over multiple years and many phases. In early 2023, we began working with Northwestern’s Center for Neighborhood Engaged Research & Science (Corners) to evaluate our data.

              PHASE 1:  Needs Assessment

              PHASE 2:  Analyze Findings & Develop a Staff and Organizational Wellness Intervention Plan 

              PHASE 3:  Implement Interventions (current phase as of January 2024)

              PHASE 4: Evaluate Intervention Effectiveness

While we work through the various phases, because we are a crisis-oriented field, we need to remain flexible to manage and provide resources to staff for their emerging and evolving needs.

KEY FINDINGS

TRAUMA EXPOSURE

  • It’s evident that our staff is immersed in trauma exposure on an almost daily basis because of their work and where they live.

  • Many staff say they “feel unsafe at work and in the neighborhood” and some still struggle with their own emotional regulation.

outreach trauma exposure.png

Outreach Trauma Exposure
n=40

(VIeWS Study)

HEALING WITH COGNITIVE BEHAVIORAL INTERVENTIONS (CBI)

Cognitive behavioral intervention (CBI) is an organizational resource that helps address staff and participants’ immediate mental health needs.

In late 2022, we started CBI for Nonviolence. This intervention fuses coping and trauma resiliency skills with the principles of Nonviolence which guide our organizational mission. It utilizes supportive relationships as a source of healing while equipping individuals with specific skills to build resiliency against anxiety, stress, trauma, and depression. Staff are then able to teach this skillset to participants.

 

CBI has been added to all our program curriculums teaching participants how to identify triggers, better manage emotions, and change behaviors.

Participants attribute positive relationship changes and their ability to choose peace over violence directly to CBI.

WHAT
PARTICIPANTS
ARE
LEARNING
FROM
CBI

Our behavioral health and wellness program is very ambitious, and we know change takes time, but our staff, our healers, and our city are worth it.

SUPPORT OUR WELLNESS PROGRAM

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