Lionhearted – When Trauma Goes Viral
Lionhearted: Working together towards a higher standard of trauma-informed care header, self-care issue March 2020Volume 5 • Issue 6 • June 2020

Uplift Family Services is a trauma-informed agency, providing whole person care through resilience-oriented, data-driven, culturally sensitive services. We believe in the power of staff investment, advocacy and collaboration as we partner with individuals, families, and communities to heal from the widespread impact of trauma.

A View from Within

Since May 25th, when George Floyd died under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer, demonstrators nationwide have protested institutionalized violence against Black Americans. On June 1st , Uplift’s CEO and President addressed this issue in an all-staff email, concluding with an invitation to respond. Charee Johnson, a clinician in Los Angeles, did just that.

With Charee’s permission, we are publishing her email. It is not a glowing review of the agency, and it contains questions that have not yet been answered. But this is a TI newsletter, and in this moment, that means the privileged among us making room for authentic voices from within the agency. This issue of Lionhearted is not about answering Charee. It is about listening to her.

Charee’s Email

Although I am not aware of plans of the agency moving forward, I would like to detail things that I feel would help me through this difficult situation.

I know the number one concern is productivity, and I am doing my best to reach and comply with my job duties. However, I have found myself crying in between sessions and disappointed with the delayed response of the agency. I am shocked to find that Black Lives Matter has not been articulated on any social media, company-wide email, or personal conversation from upper management. The lack of this response has contributed to ongoing feelings that my life is not important, but the amount that I bill and ways that I can generate revenue for the agency are.

I am doing my best to maintain my current schedule but am well aware that I will need time off during this time. I would feel supported by the agency if there were a meeting to express support for Black families and staff members. In addition, receiving supportive messaging from upper management and reminding me that it is okay to take time off is important.

It would be helpful to discuss ways staff members can take leave if they do not have sick or vacation time available. I believe seeing an agency-wide email detailing ways to support Black people during this time would also be helpful. For example, listing reputable agencies that we can donate to that are supporting this movement. In addition, I would like to see information regarding agency policy for arrests should we decide to participate in peaceful protests.

As a Black American, I feel conflicted between going out on the front lines for myself and my ancestors, and maintaining a job at a mental health agency I feel may not be understanding of why I was detained.

Thank you for taking the time to read this out. I hope this message has provided some insight to the inner turmoil and outward frustration I am feeling.

Risk and Rationale

Charee shows extraordinary honesty in examining her feelings and expressing her needs. We hope you are inspired by her courage in sharing her message. We hope it helps you feel more connected in this very tough time. We thank Charee and acknowledge the regional leadership for addressing her specific concerns.

Some readers may be frustrated by the absence of answers in this issue. We trust they will understand that, from a policy perspective, complex matters take time to address. Eva Terrazas, Senior Director of Policy and Advocacy, has started the agency on a path toward meaningful and sustained action. Meanwhile, we did not want to wait to share Charee’s message. Transparency is risky, but the alternative is toxic.

In this challenging time, we encourage employees to talk candidly with their supervisors. In addition, Eva welcomes your emails on this important topic.