Be Compassionate with Devon Lewis-Buchanan
In Florida, there is one mental health provider for every 670 residents, making our state 42nd in the country for mental health workforce availability. Devon Lewis-Buchanan, founder and CEO of Inspired Youths and a recent recipient of a Master’s in Social Work, is taking aim at this startling statistic as a member of BeWellPBC’s Workforce Pipeline Action Team.
Q: How is the team developing paths to employment in the behavioral health field?
A: We are creating ways to attract, develop and retain a skilled and diverse labor force to support community health and prosperity. We have to help people understand what the track looks like and where they fit best in the field. We’re taking a strategic look at how we can best guide people to the experience and education they need for a wide range of career options from direct service to organizational change.
Q: Where do you think there is the most opportunity for growing the workforce?
A: We need to get ahead of the curve for addressing the demographics of our population. Diversity among providers who can increase cultural competencies in the field and meeting the needs of our aging population are two important areas. Targeting younger people to come into the field will bring new and innovative ideas for how we can best serve residents.
Q: How will this work help support your own mission at Inspire Youths?
We are supporting each other to grow behavioral health resources in the county. Inspire Youths is sparking young minds to look at the field, to see what they can do with a specific degree and how they can be the next generation of advocates who will bridge the gap in eliminating the stigma of mental health in under-served communities.
Q: What workforce pipeline project are you most excited about?
A: We are working with the Palm Beach County School District to develop a pilot curriculum for high school students to graduate with a behavioral health technician certification. Students would leave school with a behavioral health job that is in high demand, pays a decent wage and will hopefully inspire them to continue pursuing higher degrees in the field. We’re focused on that as well by encouraging scholarships, fellowships and opportunities for employees to grow within their organizations.
Q: What are your hopes for Palm Beach County and BeWellPBC?
A: I hope BeWellPBC becomes a model that is implemented in other communities. I would love for Palm Beach County to be a beacon for how we go about looking at behavioral health and asking, “What can we do? What can we change?”