SAMPLE: Aurora Mental Health Center Inclusiveness Blueprint



Aurora Mental Health Center Inclusiveness Blueprint


Part I: Foundation

For the purposes of strategic planning, evaluation and immediate improvement, the AMHC inclusiveness initiative is being viewed as a 5 to 7-year process. Within that context, however, AMHC recognizes that improving inclusiveness must be and is a permanent process.


In 2004, the Aurora Mental Health Center (AMHC) commissioned a consultant to conduct a survey of its organizational culture. Survey results are the cornerstone of the foundation for subsequent exploration of how best to improve inclusiveness. AMHC formed a committee that began meeting in October of 2004 to address the concerns identified from the survey. Initially, the committee searched to find a name that adequately represents its efforts, and is now known as the Inclusiveness Working Committee (IWC).

When The Denver Foundation announced the ENII, AMHC saw it as an exceptional opportunity for support and embraced the chance to become a participant in the ENII process.

The process of creating the AMHC Inclusiveness Blueprint (blueprint) began with a review of data and survey responses from the 2004 organizational cultural survey (survey). The IWC formed a sub-committee to develop and review the blueprint for submission to the AMHC Board of Directors and executive staff as well as The Denver Foundation for their consideration to determine continued funding through the ENII process. In October 2006 the IWC conducted an agency retreat that was open to all AMHC staff and associates for suggestions, review and discussion of the ENII blue-print proposal. The retreat was facilitated by a consultant.

AMHC is acutely aware of the demographic changes of its service area - the city of Aurora and rural areas in the vicinity of Strasburg and Bennett. Since 1990, Aurora has seen a dramatic increase in Hispanic residents, largely driven by immigration from Mexico. AMHC is committed to meeting the needs of its constituency, both consumers and providers, by providing mental health services that are culturally congruent and that best meet the mental health needs of consumers, and by addressing the over-arching issues and concerns of the impact of the stigma associated with mental illness.

Diversity Defined

AMHC defines diversity as racial/ethnic, gender, cultural, disability, sexual orientation, and other social differences within its community as reflected by clients, staff, board members and providers. The agency seeks to proportionately reflect the diversity of the communities that it serves.

Inclusiveness Defined

Inclusiveness requires diversity, but moves beyond proportional representation to a realm where difference is respected, valued and celebrated. An inclusive organization enjoys and encourages an environment where everyone is valued and respected, regardless of race, color, national origin (ancestry), gender, age, class, sexual orientation, religion (creed), political affiliation, size, disability, military status or position within the agency.

Case Statement

For AMHC, the most important elements of the case for working to improve inclusiveness lie

  • in accomplishing the agency's mission;
  • in the devotion of staff members to service and self-improvement;
  • in reducing the stigma of mental illness that discourages people in need from seeking help; and
  • in enhancing community support for the agency and what it does.

The AMHC mission statement is: "Aurora Mental Health Center is committed to creating healthy and secure communities by providing the least restrictive service that ensures quality, appropriate, and efficient care."

A mentally healthy person finds purpose and joy in his/her life and is able to cope effectively with obstacles and challenges. Mental illness manifests in a wide spectrum of difficulties in finding purpose and joy and in coping with obstacles and challenges. The degree of difficulty can range from mild and temporary to serious and persistent.

Promoting recovery requires understanding the difficulties and their sources within the context of the myriad variables that make each person unique - race, color, national origin (ancestry) gender, age, class, sexual orientation, religion, family and other defining characteristics. Only when a clinician is well equipped to gather, understand and respond to information about these defining characteristics can quality, appropriate and efficient care be achieved in the least restrictive manner possible. This truth extends into every aspect of the relationship between a client and an AMHC staff member, the relationship between AMHC and other helping agencies and the relationship between AMHC and the community at large.

Staff members who improve their understanding of clients in context simultaneously improve their understanding of one another in context; the understanding applies equally well to both groups. Further, AMHC staff members made clear that they want the Center to be inclusive in the organizational cultural survey referenced below.

The stigma of mental health problems is common, widespread and a powerful motivation to avoid seeking help. The more inclusive AMHC is, the better and more inviting its reputation will be within Aurora, one of the most diverse cities in Colorado. True inclusiveness helps to inspire confidence among people in need, which in turn helps to overcome the stigma keeping them from seeking help.

Accomplishing the Center's mission requires sufficient community support to continue operation. Community support manifests in funding, volunteerism and political popularity. The more members of a community who see themselves mirrored in the staff and services of the Center, the more of them are likely to support the work of the Center. Positive community support also improves the likelihood of financial support from outside the community in the form of grants from organizations and agencies who view community support as a key indicator of efficacy.


As previously noted, a consultant conducted an Organizational Cultural Survey (survey) using face-to-face interviews, questionnaires, observations, and focus groups. The consultant provided an analysis and summary of the data collected. The results of the survey have been crucial in informing all aspects of the AMHC inclusiveness initiative.

The survey instrument used gathered information relative to five broad categories: environment, administration, communication, values and attitudes, treatment and supervision. Environment, values, attitudes and treatment are areas that demonstrated strengths as well as opportunities for improvement. The areas identified as having the greatest need for improvement are administration, communication and supervision.

Thorough review of survey findings coupled with greater understanding obtained by working through the workbook process resulted in the IWC's decision to address Personnel, Volunteers and Helpers, and Organizational Culture in its Blueprint.

Part II: Action Plan for 2007

The Action Plan for 2007 responds to needs identified by stakeholders in the survey as enhanced by working through Inclusiveness at Work and by many hours of discussion within the AMHC Inclusiveness Working Committee (IWC). The process is fully supported by the AMHC Board of Directors, executive director and executive team. Needs identified in the survey generally related to training, communication, supervision and enhancing staff diversity via retention and recruitment. Center resources have been redistributed and reallocated to support Blueprint activities.


Training is a crucial element of the 2007 action plan. A large proportion of available resources have been earmarked for training. Financial sources include The Denver Foundation ENII grant and reallocation of funding from the AMHC training budget, which is administered by the AMHC Training Committee, a group of longstanding within the mental health center. The IWC and the Training Committee are working together in this area and expect the relationship to strengthen in the future.

Planned training activities listed below include specific, identified opportunities, and general areas of training, the details of which will be worked out in the near future:

  • AMHC will send no fewer than 20 AMHC staff and or associates to the White Privilege Conference, sponsored by the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and scheduled for April 18-21. This is the eighth annual conference which brings together top national experts for seminars and workshops related to white privilege.
  • Beyond LEAD, a transformational multi-cultural leadership training program will be offered to AMHC staff and associates. AMHC currently conducts the LEAD program for its employees. LEAD (Leadership, Entrepreneurship And Development) trains employees from throughout the agency in leadership and management skills. It recently was selected by a national coalition of experts as a model program. Beyond LEAD will invite LEAD graduates to participate in organizational training specific to multi-cultural leadership, cultural competency training and inter-personal growth processes relative to race and ethnicity. The goal is to recruit and train AMHC staff members who will subsequently make themselves available to take on leadership roles in the areas of increased cultural competency, as well as address agency inclusiveness issues and concerns. Student interns may also take part
  • Review of key concerns from the 2005 Colorado Health Disparities report by AMHC Board of Directors. Training and discussion will be facilitated by a consultant.
  • Training relative to combating organizational racism facilitated by a consultant.
  • Training specific to managing diversity for AMHC program directors, including understanding how racism is manifested in the 21st Century workplace and in professional and clinical settings; and methods for improving retention of racially and ethnically diverse staff members.
  • Cultural competency/inclusiveness training specific to race/ethnicity; culturally congruent mental health treatment, aspects of the assimilation process for immigrants, and mental health services for Hispanics, Asian, Pacific Islanders, North American Indians, Africans, and Blacks/African Americans.

Cultural Events

AMHC will increase its participation in local community events and celebrations. Several Aurora community organizations offer outreach activities directed at culturally identified populations within the larger Aurora community. Among them are the Asian Pacific Development Center, Aurora Black Arts Festival, Kolorado Yoruba Association and others.

AMHC will seek to partner with community-based organizations in promoting, organizing and participating in cultural and community events.


AMHC has recently contracted with CyraCom. CyraCom provides translation services to many providers in the Denver Metro area. Their service provides access to more than150 languages, document translation, language, proficiency skill assessment; and promotes its services with specific attention to cultural competency/inclusiveness by using translators who have extensive knowledge of language, ethnicity and culture.

AMHC feels that the most important communication between the organization and its clients is dignity and respect. Therefore we have made a commitment to communicate with consumers using skilled interpreters, not key phases, visual aids or physical prompts. AMHC provides many translated documents relative to treatment information and client's rights. The agency will respond to survey suggestions to translate all notices and organizational communications upon analysis of data gathered from our consumers relative to their need for such services.

AMHC encourages its staff members to learn other languages, enhancing their personal and professional development. Staff members participating in this learning opportunity will receive reimbursement for the cost of any accredited language program.

AMHC offers a paid language differential, ($2,400 annually) to any AMHC staff member who is sufficiently fluent in a second language to meet specified clinical requirements. AMHC also pays a stipend to bilingual student interns.

Staff Diversity

Enhancing diversity in all programs and departments and at all levels of responsibility are functions of recruitment and retention. AMHC will expand its recruitment efforts by advertising in publications and journals aimed at clinical professionals of color, such as the Journal of Black Psychology and the Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences.

AMHC has recruiting relationships with several colleges and universities. Additional relationships will be developed.

All previously discussed activities will enhance staff diversity through retention

Volunteers, Helpers, and Interns

Whenever appropriate, volunteers, helpers and interns will be invited to participate in activities and cultural competence/inclusiveness opportunities previously described.


Aurora Mental Health Center website