Above All, There Is Hope
It seems challenging to make sense of the world around us right now. We are still trying to understand COVID-19 while protecting ourselves and our families and continuing to serve vulnerable individuals throughout our hospital and community-based safety net network. At the same time, the fiscal damage wreaked by the pandemic is felt in every corner of the economy, and state agencies are facing difficult budget reductions. Amidst this landscape, we are now experiencing unrest and violence across our nation and close to home in Georgia as well, and we know that minority communities have been disproportionately impacted. These surely are trying times.
If you work in the field of human services, you may have an advantage right now. While many of us are particularly sensitive to injustice, maltreatment, inadequate resources, and the needs of individuals that we serve in our public systems, we also feel the pain of our social ills very acutely. You may be hurting, and experiencing your own anxiety, distrust, disappointment, or uncertainty. Feelings of hopelessness, grief, anger, and sadness should be validated. They are appropriate responses to the daily headlines. But here is our advantage: we have the tools to respond, and at DBHDD, we have the strength of a compassionate and diverse workforce and provider network.
When we walk alongside individuals with behavioral health needs with a belief that recovery is real, we are demonstrating the same patience, passion, and persistence that are now required of us in our communities. When we facilitate services and supports that allow individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to achieve greater independence, we often deploy creative problem-solving skills that unprecedented times demand. We, as professionals, advocates, clients, and families, have greater strength than we often realize.
At DBHDD, there is almost nothing we can accomplish acting alone. All of our successes with individuals we serve, in partnership with providers, in alliance with advocates, require us to collaborate. While we are relying on our state leaders to take actions that demonstrate compassion and commitment to the health and well-being of our citizens and for peace and justice in our local communities, we are often asking “What can I do?” What each of us can do is take these same skills and experiences that we bring to our daily work, and apply them in our homes, in our neighborhoods, and in any place the need exists. Regardless of the treatment setting or place where services are delivered, there are likely two common elements to a successful helping process: listening and hope.
Listening is more necessary than ever, especially authentic listening which involves mutual respect and understanding of another’s point of view. Many of us are trained to listen to provide personalized planning and to offer healing. Extending that same type of listening to individual and community conversations can be vital to meaningful dialogue that opens the door to change. We are poised to lead by our example and to demonstrate human connectedness that builds bridges.
Above all, there is hope. There is always the belief that things can change. We cannot work in this field without it. It is time to tap into the collective reservoir of hope that inspires us to do the work we do. On the days it doesn’t feel like we hold that optimism, we can reach out to others who do. On another day, you will be the source of strength for someone feeling deprived. We are drawn together in this unpredictable time with a unique opportunity. As we share our experience, our skills, our diversity, and our hope, we replenish Georgia’s capacity to be the best of who we are, and who we are meant to be.