We promote mental health in Southwestern Virginia by assisting people in their recovery


Southwestern Virginia Mental Health Institute, in collaboration with Community Service Boards, will always be the region’s center of excellence in the treatment of serious mental illness. 


We best promote mental health in the people we serve by valuing CommunicationHonestyTrustTeamworkSelf-initiativeLeadership, and Honoring day-to-day tasks.

More about our Values

SWVMHI is a values-driven organization. Our values are widely disseminated and drive the organization. In addition, value-based discussions are an integral part of SWVMHI. The importance of values-based decision-making can be seen in the following areas: 1) proposal evaluations, 2) values training, 3) setting priorities, 4) broad dissemination of the values, 5) values behavioralization training (or recognizing when the values are at work), 6) personnel evaluations, and 7) hiring strategies.  

Effective communication is an essential component of organizational success, particularly in a fast-paced, complex, healthcare environment such as ours.  Effective communication flows across units and teams, up and down through the organization, and outside of the organization. We will have to pay special attention to potential communication barriers between groups and work to enhance them.  Employees at all levels will be engaged in the communication process.

The value of Communication is a broad one.  Not surprisingly, this value is a part of all of the other SWVMHI values. Valued communication is clear, direct, accurate, consistent, concise, timely, inclusive, and relevant.  The general atmosphere must support valuable communication:  we value hearing about problems for which we do not yet have solutions, as well as possible solutions for problems we do not wish to have.

We know that knowledge is power and we strive to have open channels of communication in many ways and it is part of this value that individuals take responsibility for accessing available communication opportunities such as unit and shift meetings, A View From the Hill SWVMHI newsletter and email communication.  In addition, although clear, effective communication is desired, Communication as an organizational value specifically articulates that not all communication is good or desirable.  For example, brutal honesty is not valued and this leads into the next value which is Honesty with Compassion.  

Honesty with compassion
Honesty with compassion characterizes our interactions with others and is an essential quality of a genuine, sincere, and respectful relationship.  When there is a balance of respect and understanding between people, frank and open honesty is an expectation with all interactions. However, honesty alone can be cruel and not helpful in furthering the mission and values of the organization.  At those times when truth presented by one to another may challenge a belief or understanding of another, it is necessary for honesty to be paired with compassion.  Giving support or showing mercy in these situations without compromising honesty shows sympathetic concern for the perspective of another.

Honesty with compassion, as articulated by the Executive Team, is sometimes referred to as The Platinum Rule (“Do unto others as they would have you do unto them”).  Candor, caring, and integrity are required ingredients.

Here, appearances are important considerations even when service delivery is of solid quality. In other words, we have to be mindful that in our business, in our region, with our sources of funding, with the patients, co-workers and outside agencies we work with, we have to not only be good, we have to look good.  Neither is sufficient by itself.  We go the extra mile to inspire others’ confidence in our integrity; we do not have ulterior motives or the appearance of ulterior motives.  We use the “Elbow Test.”  That is, would you exhibit the same behavior if someone were standing at your elbow?  Integrity can be behavioralized by doing the right thing when no one is looking.

Trust lies at the heart of a functioning, cohesive team.  Trust is the confidence among team members that their peers’ intentions are good and that there is no reason to be protective or careful around the group.  In essence, teammates must get comfortable being vulnerable with one another and begin to act without concern for protecting themselves or their turf.  As a result, they can focus their energy and attention completely on the job at hand, rather than being worried that their motives might be misinterpreted.  Leaders must encourage the building of trust by demonstrating vulnerability first.  ~ from Lencioni Trust is one of the most important of the SWVMHI Values. 

Trust is the key to driving out fear in the organization and it is slow to build and quick to destroy.  For example, at SWVMHI we do not promise more than we can deliver and we link our words to our actions always, always, always.

Because we are human, we will make mistakes and when we do, we sincerely apologize for our mistakes. We accept responsibility for the services and outcomes we deliver, positive and negative.  Also, what we say to a person is the same as what we say about that person.  We do not separate caring from our candor. We are generous with our benefits of doubt. We do not rush to condemn others.

It is said that “healthcare is a team sport.”  In order for the work team to attain its goals and objectives, it is imperative that members work together as a cohesive unit.  The team must share a common picture or vision of what each member is capable of accomplishing.  Teams will function best if there is effective communication, honesty with compassion, and trust with accountability.

This value is essential to synergy, or combined action. Synergy is essential to maximizing the productivity of any organization.  It is important for SWVMHI to maximize the productivity of our limited human resources. Teamwork is one of the key components in the SWVMHI organizational vision.  

We believe that there are multiple paths to a high performing organization based on our unique strengths and resiliencies as well as needs, preferences, and experiences.  In addition to the value of teamwork and working toward team goals, we want to recognize and celebrate individual initiative that meets needs through hard work and creativity. All persons have the ability to demonstrate a leadership and a positive approach through creative thinking and hard work.

This value complements the value of Teamwork.  Within this value is the expectation that staff do the right things for the right reasons, and that they ask questions and/or offer opinions when in doubt. “Not knowing” is less of an issue than “not asking.” At SWVMHI, if a staff member does not have an answer to a question, we want staff to always feel free to ask. As a Value, staff are expected to take the initiative, but they do so with the realization that what they do may affect others’ work.  We recognize the value of our contributions and the cost of our absence.

The value is that staff self-initiate, but they do so with personal, professional, and organizational respect for what might have already transpired. This requires the combination of trust/trustworthiness, passion, communication, and unselfishness.  

SWVMHI believes that creativity and the ability to lead are not limited to a few, but reside within each of us.  Leadership is not just a function of expertise or position: leadership can be demonstrated by fulfilling your own role and given the opportunity, people at all levels can be leaders.  Each member of our staff can seize the initiative to make creative changes that benefit the people that we serve, every day. Staff are encouraged to identify impediments to achieving our mission and work collaboratively to make improvements.

This value is closely associated with the values of Teamwork and Self-initiative. And closely linked to the value of Leadership is the value of being a good follower. When combined with the entire set of SWVMHI’s Values, it becomes clear that leadership behavior is expected. Similarly, supporting our leaders is also expected.  

Honoring day-to-day tasks 
We want to honor those day-to-day tasks and interactions that collectively promote recovery and a continuously improving organizationWe all strive to treat everyone with decency, dignity, and directness. In a psychiatric hospital these qualities actually become the core of therapy and of change. These qualities must be more than just what we do, they must be what we are.  When we live these qualities day-to-day, we model them as ways of being that others might follow our lead. In the most mundane or trivial interaction, we still transmit our way of being, even if in seemingly insignificant quantities. Atoms may be small, but no molecule can do without them; and the universe cannot do without molecules.  So we recognize that day-to-day tasks are the building blocks of excellence at SWVMHI.

This value could have several names because it captures some basic cultural concepts related to providing high quality, moment-to-moment interactions with people. This value captures behaviors such as politeness, respect, neighborliness, optimism, good manners, and leading by example. It is considered to be one of the fundamental “building blocks of excellence” in any organization and is a key part of the SWVMHI Mission and Vision. The value of Honoring day-to-day tasks is something that reviewers (Medicaid, Medicare, Joint Commission, etc.) of SWVMHI have commented positively upon for many years. Virtually every successful organization has a fundamental value similar to Honoring day-to-day tasks. It is a key element to long-term organizational success. All recognize that seemingly small tasks carried out with excellence are the building blocks of overall excellence.

We expect and encourage that all SWVMHI staff must learn, live, and lead the values of SWVMHI.

Our Philosophy


The Southwestern Virginia Mental Health Institute leadership philosophy promotes creativity, teamwork, and shared leadership by expecting all employees to learn, live and lead by the organizational Values. We believe leadership can and should be demonstrated by all staff in their individual and collective roles. This leadership philosophy enables SWVMHI to fulfill its Mission of assisting people in their recovery.

At SWVMHI, Leaders:

  • see the big picture,
  • define outcomes and expectations,
  • set the course,
  • inspire,
  • are visionary,
  • serve as catalysts, and
  • they are role models.

We believe in and promote the “All Hands Work of Leadership” in which a person is a leader when he or she is functioning in the interest of values that are not local to the person, but are of some greater force of which the person is a vehicle. Leaders keep in mind a well crafted picture of the desired ends, referencing those ends to daily actions.  Leaders maintain a creative tension between current realities and a preferred future.  These skills and abilities enable everyone to understand and own this consistency of purpose – so that all minds and hands can “play their own instrument in concert.”