The point of this letter is to let you know what might seem obvious, that I, and my team support and stand for equality, fair treatment, social justice, advocacy, and access to medical and mental health resources for everyone … We not only want to promote an awareness surrounding mental health but acknowledge our support to increase awareness about racism and how to create an anti-racist society. We help our clients find their voices and to speak up assertively about their concerns. This is no time for us to shrink in the shadows, but rather a time for us to add our voice.
Dr. Valencia Agnew, Adolescent and Family Behavioral Services – AFBHS Response to Social Injustice
Sanford Response to Social Injustice
The above quote from our colleague, Dr. Agnew, says it better than we can, but the purpose of this Response is to add our voice. And to promise that our organization will be a part of systemic change beyond the outrage of now.
In the wake of George Floyd’s murder and the protests for change which have followed, we have felt verbally hamstrung. What are the right words to express our outrage? Our sadness? As an organization, we decry police brutality at the hands of those who pledge to protect us. And as an addiction treatment center, we work every day to end the stigma of addiction, and help all those with substance use disorders live better lives in recovery.
But we are not a monolith. Sanford is made up of a diverse group of people – each with their own life experiences and biases. Our clients too, are diverse and from many walks of life. We know we have a lot to learn. And that we must hold our organization and each other accountable against racism and injustice.
We want to be a part of the meaningful change happening in the country now and hereafter. As an organization, we pledge to address systemic and institutional racism in our actions, words, and policies. We will provide evidence-based practices and tools for managing anxiety disorders, stress, grief, and trauma as a result of social injustice and these uncertain times. And we will provide a safe space for all of our clients to seek treatment, and to heal from substance use disorders.
Thank you to Dr. Valencia Agnew and the team at Adolescent and Family Behavioral Services, Grand Rapids, Michigan, for your invaluable insight. And for allowing us to “walk alongside you”.