Community Wellness Engagement Unit

Reducing barriers, neighborhood by neighborhood

In July 2019, DBHIDS launched the Community Wellness Engagement Unit, a multilingual engagement team designed to provide greater access to wellness-related resources and support for all communities within its scope.

CWEU works in some of Philadelphia’s most challenged neighborhoods to meet the people most in need and make sure they get access to the services the City has available to them.

CWEU is a mobile unit that makes use of teams of Certified Peer Specialists, Certified Recovery Specialists, and Behavioral Health Specialists to assess individuals, link them to the appropriate services, and coordinate with agencies and community stakeholders to address any barriers to treatment and wellness.

If you have any questions, please email

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Team


  • Diversity: The composition of a group – specifically whether different demographics are represented in a group.
  • Equity: The centering of creating opportunities and changes to a space or system so marginalization doesn’t unjustly predict one’s success and ultimately improves outcomes for all.
  • Inclusion: A person or group of people’s abilities to contribute to and fully participate in a space. Inclusion is also the acknowledgement, celebration, and welcoming of individuals’ sense of uniqueness and belonging.

DBHIDS Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Team Vision

DBHIDS believes in a community where everyone can thrive and be authentic and included; has a voice and feels valued; and can achieve health, well-being, and self-determination. DBHIDS celebrates differences and advocates for equity and justice. DBHIDS strives to shift the culture boldly by collecting, reporting, and monitoring data and building partnerships and collaborations with various stakeholders. Above all, DBHIDS recognizes that diversity includes YOU.

DEI Principles



Diversity at DBHIDS recognizes the unique perspectives and needs of Philadelphians in the way we serve individual and community differences by:

  • Ensuring diversity in recruitment, hiring, and promotion policies, procedures, and practices.
  • Creating and promoting safe spaces and training opportunities to increase diversity awareness; and
  • Practicing a culture where everyone participates in addressing disparities.

DEI Principle: EQUITY


Equity at DBHIDS guarantees fair and full access to opportunities and resources by:

  • Ensuring policies, procedures, and practices reflect equity.
  • Creating an impartial environment; and
  • Practicing transparency to promote accountability.



Inclusion at DBHIDS respects and welcomes diverse viewpoints in collective decision-making regardless of race, gender, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity, abilities, disabilities, or health care needs by:

  • Ensuring policies, procedures, and practices are inclusive.
  • Creating an environment that empowers individual to contribute without apprehension authentically; and
  • Practicing a culture of belongingness.


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DEI Team Norms

Team Norms

  • Celebrate diversity
  • Advocate for equity
  • Embrace inclusion
  • Demonstrate respect, honesty, accountability and professionalism
  • Value teamwork, collaboration and relationships
  • Model effective and intentional communication
  • Appreciate one another
  • Recognize diversity includes YOU

DEI Team

DEI Team

The six-member Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) team was created in 2019 to have departmental lens on:

  • inspiring a shared vision by promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout the entire DBHIDS and provider systems
  • mitigating disparities; utilizing data, research, and community input for program development; and standardizing clinical quality management tools and protocols
  • providing support to the DBHIDS staff, as well as to the provider community and special populations.

We operate from a three-pronged approach: research, data, and community input to inform our work. Through collaboration, we will model inclusive work practices to promote diverse perspectives, creative viewpoints, and innovative ideas by working collaboratively across all six divisions and all four HR components while implementing department-wide workgroups reflective of staff from all levels. We will work to develop a more equitable work culture.

DEI P.A.C.E. Objectives

DEI P.A.C.E. Objectives

1. Enhance economic and equitable inclusion for the Department’s contracted and subcontracted Minority/Women/Disabled-owned Business Enterprises (MWDBE);
2. Monitor and access the clinical quality of the Department’s DEI practices and attitudes while addressing the DEI needs of its workforce; and
3. Collaborate with behavioral health providers to diversify to increase cultural humility and linguistic competencies to promote inclusive service delivery.

DEI Five-Year Plan

Five-Year Plan

Over the next five years, the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion team will lead the charge and model the way by supporting quality management functions related to DEI by:

  • utilizing data for decision making and contributing to policy and program development for the Department and provider systems;
  • developing mechanisms to manage and standardize DEI;
  • increasing provider recruitment and retention of a diverse workforce reflective of the populations served;
  • providing leadership and coordination of clinical and provider-related quality activities associated to DEI including relevant MWDSBE providers and subcontractors;
  • enhancing reviews and quality improvement projects and evaluations;
  • promoting and enhancing awareness and understanding of DEI through a range of quality management activities and projects.

Immigrant Affairs and Language Access Services

Immigrant Affairs and Language Access Services

Guided by the vision and mission of DBHIDS, the mission of this Unit is to improve the total wellness for immigrant and refugee communities through a holistic community-based engagement and service delivery approach.

Immigrant Affairs and Language Access Services assists in the development of agency-wide policies and strength-based approaches that engage and provide culturally and linguistically appropriate services for refugee and immigrant communities with behavioral health concerns. The unit also serves as an adviser/liaison to the DBHIDS Commissioner, Executive Management Team, and the City’s Office of Immigrant Affairs.

Essential Functions:

  1. Assessing the needs of immigrant and refugee communities as well as service providers, to identify gaps and determine how DBHIDS can deliver culturally and linguistically appropriate services to the communities
  2. Developing tools and innovative strategies that support effective service delivery for immigrant and refugee communities
  3. Identifying, developing, maintaining, and aligning resources and information—that exist across the City—to successfully integrate immigrants and refugees into the cultural, social, health, economic, and civic fabric of the City
  4. Promoting the total wellness of immigrants and refugees communities through population health approach

Language Access Services

The DBHIDS Language Access Policy provides protocols for staff when providing services to individuals who have limited English proficiency (LEP). The Policy is essential to the success of our mission to improve the health statuses of Philadelphians in need of behavioral health and/or intellectual disability services. It is the City’s policy to grant access to services or programs to every person even when there is a limited ability to speak, understand, read or write English. Staff WILL NOT suggest or require an LEP member to provide an interpreter in order to receive services.

Accessing Interpretation or Translation Services

If you or someone you know is in need of interpretation or translation services, please use the links below in the Resources section that provide all of the services offered by the City of Philadelphia.

Contact Us

For more information about the Immigrant Affairs and Language Access Service Unit, please contact unit Director Sarorng Sorn, M.S.; office, 215-685-5454; mobile, 267-582-8017.



When the Loss Is Confusing, so Is the Grief


Psychologist Tracy Steen was surprised to learn this herself, but she discovered that The Brady Bunch – that iconic ’70s sitcom about a blended family – was a good example of her presentation topic: ambiguous loss.

Steen, whose private practice in Rittenhouse Square focuses on positive psychology and addiction treatment, came to Philadelphia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability Services on Wednesday to discuss the kind of grief that leaves many unanswered — and unanswerable — questions. That makes it especially hard for survivors to move on.

How would you feel if your father’s plane disappeared over the ocean or your family jumped on a rickety boat to escape a war?

Sarorng Sorn, director of immigrant affairs and language access services for the agency, had invited Steen to a lunchtime education session. A Cambodian refugee, she thought that many like her suffer because they left their homelands and families in chaos. Some may never know what happened to their relatives or the path that their lives would have taken if they’d been able to stay at home.

The concept of ambiguous loss can also apply to families of people who disappear in war or storms, go away to prison or become estranged and drop off the radar. A different form applies to people who are “there but not there,” those who suffer brain damage, mental illness or addiction that leaves them alive but different.

Steen said the term “ambiguous loss” was coined years ago by Pauline Boss, emeritus professor at the University of Minnesota, but many professionals still have not heard of it.

As for the Bradys, she said the show never mentioned the previous spouses of Mike and Carol Brady. His wife died. Her husband’s absence was never explained. This had to be hard on the kids, who might have wanted to talk about all of their parents.

Then there were the family pets. The girls came into the marriage with a cat named Fluffy whose disappearance was never addressed. The boys had a dog named Tiger who, tragically, was killed on the set. After the brief attempt to replace him failed, the kids were inexplicably petless.

“Tiger was there and then he was not there,” Steen said.

There are, of course, many far more serious examples of deaths made much harder to accept by their circumstances. Steen said the Nazis purposely amplified psychological distress with their Nacht und Nebel (night and fog) directive that made critics disappear.

She said therapists can make things worse by encouraging people to find “closure,” a term that is falling out of favor anyway. Some questions cannot be answered. The key, Steen said, is for people to learn to accept what happened, let go of their old identity and build a new one, and realize that they can still have a full, satisfying life. It also helps to be part of a supportive community.

Steen is a fan of narrative therapy, which encourages victims of ambiguous loss, who are often so “blocked” that they don’t talk about their histories, to tell their stories in detail. The process, she said, helps them to come unstuck and accept what happened.