February is Black History Month

February 8, 2021

February is Black History Month, and I want to highlight important ideas from Black leaders that support your mental health. Martin Luther King Junior said, “I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality…. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.” Finding ways to build honest and supportive relationships is one of the most important things you can do for your mental health and to increase your feelings of wellbeing.

Booker T. Washington said, “Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.” One of the most destructive things we can do is compare ourselves to others. We always come up short. Set personal goals rather than using other’s lives as a measuring stick for your success. Take stock in your own progress and let that be your motivation to take the next step. Being a lifelong learner is good for your mental health.

Maya Angelou said “Won’t it be wonderful when black history and Native American history and Jewish history and all of U.S. history is taught from one book. Just U.S. history.” The U.S. is and has been made up of the stories of countless individuals who have unique life experiences. Validating someone’s story, in other words honoring their life experience as true, important, and meaningful is essential to a healthy mature self-esteem. You have the power to make someone else know they matter. Be that person who listens and affirms their life experience.

Barack Obama said, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” One of the pieces of advice I give adolescents is stop blaming others for their problems and focus on how they can be the solution. When you blame others you give away your power to fix things. Focus on how you can solve problems and make things better. Give yourself the power to be the difference maker.

 -Jerry Strausbaugh, EdD, LPCC-S, Executive Director, Appleseed Community Mental Health Center

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