For community mental healthcare provider AllHealth Network, great care and transformative leadership is all about the evidence.
“When being a leader, never underestimate the impact of kindness and compassion in working with employees in delivering difficult messages and understanding a client's or an employee's situation. If you can convey a sense of kindness and compassion, staff are going to be more open to your leadership and the direction that you want to take the organization.” Bill Henricks knows from whereof he speaks. In his line of work, empathy and caring are the growth medium for great organizations.
As president and CEO of AllHealth Network, a Denver-based non-profit community mental health provider, Henricks champions both evidence-based treatment and evidence-based leadershipSM (EBL) practices. Evidence-based treatment approaches are those that are scientifically proven to significantly reduce whatever symptoms a person getting treatment may have. Evidence-Based Leadership organizations are able to align goals, actions and processes, and execute quickly, creating the foundation that enables transformation in an environment of continuous change.
While common in traditional hospital environments, EBL principles are somewhat uncommon in community mental health organization management. When he joined AllHealth in 2017 after years in hospital and residential treatment management, Henricks saw a chance to transform a good organization into a truly great one.
“When I joined the organization there were several strong leaders in place with a desire to move AllHealth Network in a new direction. I saw tremendous potential to create a very healthy work environment that would be capable of driving the best possible outcomes for clients,” he said. “Restructuring the organization was a real opportunity to make a difference, and to teach clinicians how to become leaders and help them work with their colleagues to create a superior clinical environment where the community could receive behavioral health services.”
AllHealth Network provides counseling, psychiatry, crisis services, substance use treatment, and more at 11 outpatient and inpatient locations in the south-Denver metro area. The Network’s 200+member clinical staff treats approximately 18,000 individuals of all ages every year, regardless of ability to pay.
Having had significant success with EBL prior to arriving at AllHealth, Henricks introduced the model, and spent about a year “investing in organizational alignment, communication, engagement, clarity of roles and responsibilities, and so forth. We’d just completed our first year with the model when we realized that we had this global pandemic and that it was threatening the very existence of the organization and our ability to deliver care,” he said. “It was a great test of the model and the strength of the organization. We converted to providing services via televideo and telehealth in about a week.”
The scope of the moment was surreal, but AllHealth was ready. “Our work with EBL had prepared us to work as a team, to understand that individuals have different roles and the team was counting on them to fulfill their role,” Henricks noted. Team members had the confidence and support to respond to the urgency of the moment, and worked together to coordinate and execute thoroughly and efficiently.
“The teamwork came together in a very positive way, and it was something to behold as the organization struggled with converting to telehealth at the same time. We were all working at home via video and making all of this happen remotely under duress because we were very concerned about our own health and safety as well. The principles gave us the discipline and communication skills to respond quickly and effectively to the pandemic and make the conversion to telehealth.”
He added, “It’s an exciting time to be a leader in behavioral health because we are faced with unprecedented challenges, but we are also faced with unprecedented opportunities. It's a real test of leadership to be able to move the organization in the right direction and to get everybody on board, so we're really invigorated.
“The leadership team is energized by these challenges, and we're happy that our staff is right there with us, trying to find new ways of reaching out to the community because we've been frustrated with the idea that we could help, but, it was hard to provide the access and engagement for the clients that we wanted to. Out of this pandemic has come new research, new resources, and new tools to help us reach out and connect with people.”
AllHealth is underpinned by a culture of true compassion by design, which community mental healthcare organizations are likely to have by virtue of the treatment specialties they provide. But that doesn’t mean it arises organically.
“Building a great company culture for all employees no matter their race, religion, sexual preference or ethnicity is an intentional process and you need a plan,” Henricks recommended. “Don't just hope it's going to happen organically, be intentional about it. You need to feel confident inside that the organization can do better, and that needs to help you move forward in a kind and compassionate way even when you experience resistance and people tell you that something isn't possible or don't believe in your vision. Trust In your experience but find your way to the future through kindness and compassion.”
AllHealth Network is a non-profit healthcare organization providing a full spectrum of behavioral healthcare to more than 18,000 children, adults, families and couples in 11 unique settings. Behavioral health services include counseling, psychiatry, crisis services, substance use treatment, an adult acute treatment unit, services within and for the criminal justice system (including law enforcement partners), vocational and social rehabilitation, school-based counseling and an on-site pharmacy.