Valley Behavioral HealthValley Behavioral Health

by Gary Larcenaire

Gary Larcenaire, CEO Valley Behavioral Health

Gary Larcenaire, CEO Valley Behavioral Health

 

“I care more than you do obviously. I’ve given up everything”

As an early case manager a common problem among my clients with significant mental illness was
basic hygiene. I met with the director of a community college for cosmetology, and arranged for
students to provide hair and nail services to improve their health and quality of life.
When discussing this in a staffing and sharing this arrangement, some of my veteran colleagues
were very harsh in educating me that “THEY spent after hours and weekends actually performing
these services themselves”. I felt a tinge of shame.
That was the beginning of my experience in what I call: “I care more than you do contests”. In social
services, healthcare and psychiatry, I’ve heard colleagues cite all they have sacrificed: personal
relationships, their own health and personal time, clothing, resources etc.
Many times, those who have consistently “won” these contests of “comparative caring”, also won
promotions to leadership positions. It seemed that their professional elevation and identity was a
result of always being the most caring.

They hurt most when others experienced suffering

The individuals most able to survive and thrive in “human care-oriented systems” have certain core
qualities that are essential ingredients upon which we build crucial systems of support and service
to others.
But we must commit to better care for these providers, or risk losing them. Why? because those
same core qualities, if left unchecked can lead to an unhealthy view that: the secondary
prioritization of personal needs, the neglect and failings of personal relationships distinguish
themselves as “truest in their commitment to the cause”.
Similar to a view that substance abuse is the hallmark of a great musician, self neglect in all areas
can become the hallmark of the most committed care/service-oriented worker.

Allowed to develop without solid mentoring, an unspoken mantra can emerge: “the only true road to
status, peer recognition and promotion in a care-oriented profession is a personal life marked with
failed relationships or other signs that the provider is simply “too overwhelmed with the fulfillment
of the needs of others to be bothered with the “unimportant minutiae” of completing the tasks
which are critical for the responsible, sustainable management of a life (or a business model).

Accordingly, as a subset of our wellness committee work, we will adopt a secondary mission
statement for administration: “The care and cultivation of the provider personality”.

 

An evolution of the concept of a “fully developed behavioral health leader”.

 

Let’s flip the criteria for identifying elite provider staff. Let’s work to make it that: a personal
commitment to wellness, positive peer engagement, healthy personal relationships, along with
responsible business practices, are recognized as evidence of an elite commitment to our clients
and our field.
Let’s leave behind the pathology of self, and programmatic neglect, as a sign of the truest
commitment and validation of us as caring professionals.
I look forward to discussing this more in person.

Gary Larcenaire
About Gary Larcenaire