After first writing about TRUST, I decided to continue the discussion on the LifeLine Core Values by addressing the Value of SAFETY. Taken form the official LifeLine for Youth Statement of Core Values on Safety:
“Physical, Emotional, and Mental Safety. Real trust is anchored by a sense of safety. We are committed to creating a safe environment for healing and recovery. We strive to make the LifeLine for Youth program safe from violence and all forms of abuse – verbal, mental, or emotional. It will not only be a safe environment for the youth in recovery, but a safe and enjoyable place to work.”
Trust in any relationship really begins with feeling safe. If you think about who in your life you really trust, it is likely the people you believe would never hurt or take advantage of you in any way physically or emotionally. You know you are safe with them.
At the LifeLine for Youth program, the safety of the youth and their families is our number one priority. We earn the trust of the youth by proving to them that they will be safe here – that they are safe from physical threats from our staff and we will protect them from intimidation, bullying, and violence from the other youth. Physical safety is only the beginning when creating an environment where healing and recovery can take place. It is critical that the youth feel safe emotionally and trust that whatever they talk about, whatever secrets they disclose, will be respected and treated with empathy and understanding. It is critical we create an environment of support where the youth know they will not be teased or made fun of for just being who they are. The freedom to let their guard down, and let their peers get to know the real kid inside them is where the building blocks of good self esteem can begin.
One of the most critical needs that we all have in life is a sense of connectedness to the world around us. At LifeLine, creating this sense of connectedness is a primary treatment goal for all youth. According to research conducted by Dr. Brene Brown at the University of Houston, connectedness can only be achieved if we are willing and able to be vulnerable with others. Vulnerability is only possible when we feel safe to let our guard down and let others into our lives.
Several years ago, LifeLine conducted a research study to understand the process parents go through when searching for help for a struggling teenager. We found that the number one factor that prompted parents to seek help was fear for their child’s safety. In evaluating treatment options, parents reported that keeping their child safe was the number one criteria in choosing a program or provider for their family. LifeLine for Youth has earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval® for accreditation by demonstrating compliance with The Joint Commission’s highest standards for health care quality and safety in behavioral health care (read more). For the past few years, we have conducted discharge surveys to parents after their teen completes the LifeLine program and have asked them to rate how well we are living up to the core values we have committed to. When asked if they felt their teen what physically and emotionally safe at LifeLine, we have had an average score of 7.6 out of 8 with more than 98% of parents choosing a 7 or 8 as “strongly agree” that their child was safe in our care. This is a measure that I am quite proud of and I know that our employees are committed to creating a safe, loving environment that youth and parents can trust.