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Diversity, equity, and inclusion

What is Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion?

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are terms that are used within the workplace. [i]

  • Diversity is the presence of different identities such as race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, language, ability, and more.
  • Equity is a principle that promotes justice in which resources are distributed based on individual needs, so that all people can lead a healthy life.
  • Inclusion ensures that everyone feels and is welcome in any environment.

[i] Adapted definition from

What is the background of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at DBHR?

The Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery (DBHR) has long understood that behavioral health and recovery are closely tied to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Health disparities impact behavioral health and create additional risks, challenges, and barriers for the children, youth, and families we serve. To create the greatest positive impact though our work in this diverse state, the Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Prevention and Mental Health (MH) Promotion Section has infused DEI into our efforts to inform how we prioritize prevention services for the communities experiencing the greatest needs, as well as how to provide culturally appropriate and responsive technical assistance.

Why is Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion important to the Prevention Section and System?

DBHR is committed to preventing substance use disorders while promoting mental health for youth, families, and communities across Washington. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are important values within the division as we aim to build a diverse team that can advocate for, and represent, the communities we work with. The SUD Prevention and MH Promotion Section offers many trainings and workshops to increase our knowledge and skills to operate within a DEI lens. We hope to empower our diverse communities, staff, and families to contribute and participate in the vast number of prevention services in Washington State, while we work to improve the system to make it more equitable for all.

Why is Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion important to Prevention science and its application?

DEI principles are foundational to the science of prevention on which the Washington system is built.  DEI encompasses core principles of the Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF) such as cultural competency.  Its practice is central to the application of the “Nothing About Us Without Us” mantra.  It is addressed directly in the CLAS Standards.

For these and many other reasons, DEI is a requirement in the Community Prevention and Wellness Initiative (CPWI) strategic planning process and is a key consideration in all DBHR funding applications. It is not an exaggeration to suggest that prevention practices do not fully function as intended when DEI principles are not robustly understood and applied at the community level. Coalitions work within communities across Washington to prevent substance use disorder and promote mental health for individuals, families, and communities in designated high-needs communities. We acknowledge that many of the people we serve come from disadvantaged backgrounds to which diversity, equity, and inclusion must be emphasized within coalition work. For example, the inclusion of different cultural identities within the coalition membership, that is representative of the community diversity, helps bring a community together, highlighting uniqueness and building capacity to help prevent substance use.

The SUD Prevention and MH Promotion Health Equity Workgroup

The SUD Prevention and MH Promotion Section hosts an internal health equity workgroup that is actively working on enhancing DEI principals within our prevention work. This includes drafting recommendations for policy and practice implementations that will address health disparities and reduce barriers within the prevention system in Washington State. This work involves planning and coordinating DEI trainings for the prevention field to meet the requests of providers to learn new principals and skills to meet the diverse needs of each of your communities. The workgroup aims to integrate best practices and lessons learned into DBHR and HCA as a whole, examining a path forward that will bring us closer to an inclusive and equitable system of behavioral health care.

Please refer to the Health Equity Workgroup one-pager for more information.

  • Monthly equity workgroup meetings
  • CPWI health equity qualitative and quantitative evaluation
  • Coordination of DEI trainings for prevention staff and providers statewide (such as at the Coalition Leadership Institute or Prevention Summit)
  • Reviewing and updating CPWI strategic planning guidance documents
  • Reviewing health disparities data at the State Prevention Enhancement (SPE) Policy Consortium and setting DEI goals for the Consortium

The prevention team is excited to share community-level health equity highlights as we learn of them! If your tribe, CPWI community, or CBO community has had a special success you would like to share, please send this to, so we can share with the broader prevention community!

Resources will be added as they are developed. Watch this space!

The Prevention team is excited to share community-level health equity highlights as we learn of them! If your Tribe, CPWI community, or CBO community has had a special success you would like to share so that others can learn from your success, please send this to and we would be happy to post it!