28 Oct Reimagining Mental Health: CSPL’s Approach to Caring for Their CaretakersShare This Article
In our community conversations earlier this year, we heard from many of our grantee partners about the pandemic’s impact, not just on those they serve but also on their staff. Community-based organizations that are BILPOC-led and focus on providing quality health services were most likely to report being worried about their staff’s mental health needs.
Some had plans to implement new programming to meet these needs and support their teams who have been on the front lines of the pandemic challenges, including our grantee partner Coalition for Spiritual and Public Leadership (CSPL). As part of our Reimagine Health series, Michael Okinczyc-Cruz, Executive Director of CSPL, shares how they have instituted a spiritual retreat day policy for their staff to take time to care for themselves first in order to take care of others.
Written by Michael Okinczyc-Cruz, Executive Director of CSPL
HOW CSPL’S SPIRITUAL RETREAT DAY POLICY AROSE
As an organization that prioritizes investment in the public and spiritual lives of our grassroots members, our board of directors felt that this investment needed to be modeled with our staff as well. So, beginning in 2019, we implemented a policy that encourages staff to utilize a specific number of spiritual retreat days that they are allowed to take advantage of each year.
WHAT THIS LOOKS LIKE IN PRACTICE
Each staff member is allowed to take up to 5 days for spiritual development, growth, and rejuvenation each year. This is in addition to our other paid time off policies including vacation, personal days, and sick days.
Staff are encouraged to identify how they would best like to utilize those days during each year and to see them as opportunities to seek quiet and solitude in order to recharge and recenter. In some cases, staff members choose to spend that time at one of the many spiritual retreat centers across the region where they can enjoy a personal silent retreat or participate in a guided group retreat.
HOW IT HAS IMPACTED CSPL’S STAFF AND ORGANIZATION
It has had a very important impact on our staff and community partners over the past several years. It has led to more intentional conversations about the importance of cultivating time during our day, even for just a few minutes, for meditation, prayer, and silence.
It has also led to conversations about how these forms of spiritual practice can foster the type of inner grounding that we need in order to sustain ourselves in this difficult work for social, racial, economic, and health justice.
“…It has led to conversations about how these forms of spiritual practice can foster the type of inner grounding that we need in order to sustain ourselves in this difficult work for social, racial, economic and health justice.”
WHAT “REIMAGINING MENTAL HEALTH AND WELLNESS” MEANS TO CSPL
We try to look at mental health and wellness holistically by understanding that many of our systems and institutions across society have a profound impact on people’s mental health. The more that people are impacted by debt, exploitation, racism, and sexism, and other forms of oppression, the more difficult it will be to develop and sustain a healthy and balanced life.
Recognizing, as well, that mental health is very complex and multifaceted, we also recognize spiritual practices such as prayer, meditation, or intentional time for silence as important and helpful in fostering balance and well-being in peoples’ personal lives as well as in their public lives when we speak of the work of community organizing that grassroots leaders are often engaged in.
Michael Okinczyc-Cruz, Executive Director of Coalition for Spiritual and Public Leadership
Learn more about our grantee partner Coalition for Spiritual and Public Leadership and their important work in creating a more just and equitable Chicago through community organizing and engagement and leadership development of immigrants and allies.