On January 28th, Oregon AFSCME was proud to be one of the sponsors for the Solidarity Alliance of Social Services (SASS) forum at Portland State University. The forum brought together workers, students, and community allies to discuss the broad challenges facing the behavioral health industry and it’s workers. About 140 people were in attendance to share their concerns about the future of their jobs, their clients, and our communities.
The event’s keynote speaker Maryse Mitchell-Brody, discussed The Icarus Project and shared the idea behind their “Mad Maps Guides.” Maryse explained how oppression plays a major role in an individual's mental health. Mad Maps Guides reflect on the role that race, gender, class, the economic system and institutional violence play in our own personal experiences.
Maryse Mitchell-Brody was followed by our panel, Unite! How Front Line Workers Can Raise Industry Standards and Improve Client Care. Karen Hixson, PhD, LPC, LLC, facilitated the panel. Panelists engaged with behavioral health workers and advocates as they discussed the union difference, overcoming systematic challenges, and highlighted the efforts of peer support and mentors in the field.
After the panel Tyler Woodard, Organizer at AFSCME Council 75, along with two other behavioral health care workers presented a “White Paper Sneak Peak.” They discussed worker issues, non-profit funding streams, and how workers can come together to influence policy changes that affect their job.
Following the “White Paper Presentation” participants took part in one of three workshops dealing with challenges and opportunities in the field. AFSCME staff and members had a big part to play presenting Don’t Get Down, Get Organized!, Deconstructing The Self-Care Myth, and Trump and Your Job.
The forum ended with report outs from the workshops, acknowledging and thanking community members, and announcements of events SASS will be hosting in the next month. On February 28th, SASS and AFSCME will be at the Capital for the first-ever SASS Lobby Day! Oregon AFSCME will continue to support these workers and work hard to make the industry better for clients and workers alike.