Pride Institute, Eden Prairie
We recently sat down to video chat with Luke Miller, Director of Business Development for Pride Institute, to find out more about the organization, how it serves the local LGBTQ+ community and the transition from pre-COVID-19 to the “new normal.”
Pride Institute is a for-profit organization that was founded in 1986 as a recovery center for the LGBTQ+ population. Pride deals with substance abuse disorder, sexual health, and mental health through evidence-based treatment that recognizes the unique experience of LGBTQ+ people.
Renowned for their Meth and Men program, and offering several levels of treatment, Pride Institute’s recovery approaches hinge on the concept that LGBTQ+ people need a queer-specific place or organization to increase their comfort and consequently their recovery rates. To support the diverse groups within the LGBTQ+ population, Pride Institute offers group therapy segmented according to sexuality, race, male or female-identifying gender, among others, in addition to each patient’s homegroup with a primary counselor. This reinforces the feeling of safety and inclusion which serves to aid patients’ recovery.
Miller’s role as Director of Business Development consists of handling marketing and development and educating groups including but not limited to chemical dependency providers, hospital employees, social workers, case managers and social service organizations. While the team caters to the clinical aspect of pertinent organizations, they also provide diversity training for Twin Cities organizations and small businesses. Getting the word about Pride Institute out to the public has meant participating in national conferences, Pride Festival, ads in Lavender Magazine, and typical channels such as radio ads and word of mouth or feet on the ground efforts.
When asked what things were like before the coronavirus pandemic, Miller brings up the opening of their Rochester outpatient treatment center in June 2019. The organization has been busy re-establishing itself in the Twin Cities area and has experienced lots of transition over the past couple of years. As they pivot to telehealth during the pandemic, it’s become clear that their services are needed now more than ever. On the business development side of the Institute, Miller says the team is already well-versed in virtual training so the shift to Zoom for training and meetings has been seamless.
As for the recovery programs, Pride Institute is an essential provider in the field of substance abuse and addiction, so their residential and PHP sites remain open. Every employee is screened before entry, and they follow Governor Walz’ and CDC recommendations. The residential site has 42 beds and patients are separated according to current social distancing guidelines. Handwashing and sanitizing stations are appropriately placed, and all providers wear masks. Telehealth outpatient meetings launched on March 30. For now, out of state patient acceptance is on hold.
The impact of quarantine on current outpatients due to the pandemic is interesting. Miller compares the current shelter-in-place order to both the LGBTQ+ experience of being closeted and to those in recovery who, in an effort to stop using, are cut off from the LGBTQ+ social scene that nearly exclusively revolves around bars and clubs. With mental health being a key component of Pride Institute treatment programs, Miller says part of the process of recovery includes creating positive habits that patients utilize on a daily basis and developing a sense of community where they feel like they fit into the world and that there are others like them.
This is where group therapy comes in to bridge the gap between old social settings and finding new ways to spend time feeling encouragement and support from peers.
The Pride Institute’s main goal is to serve the LGBTQ+ population with programs written especially for queer people. As the world shifts and transitions through uncertain times the Pride Institute’s services are more valuable than ever for the community and their loved ones.