Fall Into Cash Guest Blog: The Principled Practice – Foundational Elements of (re)Generative Mental Health Businesses
Written by Robyn Mourning, MS, Founder of Ominira Labs
Every single mental health care provider agrees we are amidst a global mental health crisis. They also agree the current systems are ill-equipped to respond to it in any meaningful way.
We are also experiencing a significant cultural shift in the discussion and implementation of mental health, wellness, relational and community wellbeing, and care providing. This shift is putting intentional pressure on how we conceptualize, access, and deliver care. This shift demands that we understand and put into the real-life context what wellness and healing mean, who gets to define and authorize the meaning, and who benefits and experiences harm as a result. It calls into question our contribution and response to trauma, violence, and other harms that keep people in various states of distress and unwellness. This shift holds a mirror up to us so we can become aware of our role in how we got here and where we’re going. It reveals the bravery, brilliance, and hope that is present and abundant. It requires us to show up with consistency and humility to pave a new way forward – together.
This culture shift is not by accident, nor is it passive. Cultural workers, activists, and community members that have (historically and contemporarily) experienced targeting, discrimination, repression, violence, and oppression have been actively catalyzing this shift for decades – longer even. Many of these movement members are care providers like yourself.
These providers are building private practices, community agencies, collaboratives, and peer support spaces that radically transform mental health care. How do I know? Because I work with them, I am in community with them, I co-create with them, I learn from them, I teach them, and I am inspired by them. I practice hope with them.
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In my work at Ominira Labs, we consult with healers and carers of all kinds to support their contributions to creating liberatory healing futures.
One of the first steps in our work together is creating a shared understanding of what principled practice and liberatory care mean to them personally, their community, and specifically to those in their community that experience the most harm and oppression by the medical and mental health care systems. In short, a Principled Practice (as I mean it) is one that is principled in just, affirming, and liberatory care.
A few aspects of principled practice include:
- (Re)Generative: (Re)Generative practice isn’t just about creating a business with a large profit margin that becomes self-sustaining. A (re)generative practice is one that contributes to the healing, thriving, and vitality of the community within which it lives. It plays an active role in mutual aid projects, community care initiatives, culture building, and decolonization of health, wellness, and healing. It supports survivors of psychiatric harm, community violence, familial violence, and systemic violence in their movements toward reclamation, healing, and regeneration. It recognizes that the mental health system is one of the systems of oppression that harms a great many of people (in the past and present) and takes responsibility for making notable steps in investing in life-affirming alternatives.
- Many practices dedicated to this work build financial wealth that will serve the people that come through their doors, their families, and the larger needs of the community. Regenerative practices create knowledge bases and resource hubs that are relevant and accessible to their communities. Financial and other resources are collected to be shared, not hoarded. This means that the providers are not just prioritizing their financial and resource needs, but those of the people around them. This involves a reckoning with the effects of capitalized care and how wealth building is done equitably.
- Individualism (a core characteristic of white supremacy culture) affects mental health care by siloing mental health care centers (agencies and private practices) and putting them in competition. Principled Practices rely on collaboration and interdependence with one another and community stakeholders to increase access to (w)holistic community wealth building.
- Principled Practices are guided by core tenants of racial, queer/trans, and disability justice including leaving no one behind, nothing for us without us, queering care and healing, decolonial and anti-carceral approaches to relationship and care, self-determination, and individual and cultural sovereignty.
- Understanding that there must be active engagement in changing the social and political conditions that are leading to mental, emotional, and relational distress, violence, abuse, and neglect. Creating care responses and interventions that are in support of liberatory conditions and are put in a social context rather than putting the burden of “illness” and “wellness” solely on the individual.
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Choosing to build a Principled Practice is foregoing the “easy” road. It is much easier to build and grow a mental health business the standard way one would build any business – but this comes at a great human cost.
So, how do you get there? What are some community-validated frameworks that will guide you through this process? How does one determine the necessary, feasible, and sustainable steps?
Below are three main areas (with a few example tasks) we focus on when working with individuals, group,s and teams:
- Principled Personal Commitments
- Developing a set of personal values, beliefs, and relational orientations
- Creating a knowledge base and critical analysis for (un)learning and dismantling
- Utilizing personal accountability processes
- Personal Devotion to anti-oppressive and liberatory ideologies, actions, and relationships
- Principled Business Ecosystems and Cultures
- Creating business structure and operations that align with personal and communal values and principles of anti-oppression and liberation
- Developing and communicating company accountability processes
- Designing anti-oppressive team relational dynamics including power sharing, decision making, compensation, divesting from exploitative/extractive employment strategies, anti-ableist and anti-carceral approaches to mistakes and productivity challenges.
- Implementation of harm reduction and transformative justice praxis
- Adoption of humanizing the work, imperfection, experimentation, emergence, iteration and moving with intention
- Principled Care Ethos
- Transforming clinical orientations and interventions
- Determine steps toward reducing client exposure to non-consensual crisis intervention
- Engaging in Decolonial care practices
- Transparency of power dynamics, roles, boundaries, biases, etc
- Connection to and distribution of resources for daily living
All of these principled actions work at changing the conditions that are contributing to the distress, illness, and harm your clients are experiencing. Changing the conditions is the most effective way we can respond to the global mental health crisis stemming from housing/food insecurity, intergenerational trauma, racial oppression, queer/trans antagonism, climate disasters, and so forth.
This work only happens in community, so get connected to those around you who are ready to begin. Work with consultants, facilitators, coaches, and movement leaders to learn what you need to know! Read books, take in art, listen to podcasts, take courses and sit in community circles. Pay attention to your body and the capacity it is communicating – show up authentically.
We LOVE working with brave and bold mental health carers like you! So if you want to work with us, sign up for an initial consultation session with me to discuss your goals and go through our The Principled Practice: Foundational Elements of (re)Generative Mental Health Businesses Template Guide. From there, we’ll co-create a roadmap for our work together!
You are the future of (re)generative mental health care!
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