By Lynda Cortés-Avellaneda, NAMI Multicultural Action Center Program Manager
The New Year is moving quickly and February is already nearly half way through. Aside from the arctic weather conditions, the heart-shaped balloons and the Sochi Olympics, this month is a very unique time to recognize and celebrate the significant role of African Americans and their outstanding contributions to the United States throughout history.
In 1926, African American historian and author Carter G. Woodson initiated the celebration of Black History Week, which, unsurprisingly, coincided with the birthdays of abolitionist Frederick Douglass and Civil War President Abraham Lincoln. In 1976, the year of the nation’s bicentennial, the week grew to encompass the entire month. Since then, every U.S. president has officially declared February as Black History Month.
The Significance of February
Many key events in African American history took place in February. Here are just a few:
The Case of Mental Illness
Mental illness, without any further distinction, affects one in four Americans. However, experiences of mental illness vary across cultures and there is a need for improved cultural awareness and corresponding competence in the health care and mental health workforce.
How You Can Become the Change Starting Today
Observe African American History Month proactively.
Valentine's Day, more than any other day, draws our attention to the importance of love in our lives. However, all too often we think of "love" only in a dreamy, romantic way. Much of the popular advice is based on this "romantic" approach to love. But we need to avoid the pitfalls of this short-sighted, superficial approach because that's actually selling love short. We need to elevate the meaning of a loving relationship beyond just achieving temporary pleasure. Love is not some little fringe issue in your life. When all is said and done, having a long-term, loving relationship ranks near the top of the list of the best of what life has to offer. We need to show more respect for love's significance in the context of life as a whole. Love can provide a solid place to stand in the world. It can be the kind of positive force that lets you go out and face the world on a completely different basis than you could do otherwise. Falling in love is easy, but staying in love is quite another matter. Apparently it's one of the most difficult things any of us ever attempts. Because of the high divorce rate and the large percentage of remaining marriages in which couples don't have a vital love relationship, you may have come to believe it's inevitable that love will fade with time. Or perhaps you've already experienced the discouragement of seeing the love you once shared somehow slip away. Don't settle for thinking that you really can't expect more. You can and you should—regardless of your current situation. While no long-term love relationship is without difficulties, it is possible for love to survive and to be renewed and transformed over time. You can realistically aspire to something better. Relationships can be the source of great joy or great pain. They seldom stand still; they're either getting better or getting worse. You deserve more out of love than just a few brief romantic interludes or an ongoing struggle simply to get along. You don't want life to pass you by while you're waiting (and hoping) for a good relationship. You'll feel better if you're actively doing something toward that end. It's not enough to focus on your relationship only on Valentine's Day (or some other "special" days during the year). Love is the accumulation of the multitude of daily interactions we have with each other. By paying attention to what's happening on a daily basis—and remembering the real importance of love in our lives—every day can be Valentine's Day. (Adapted from Making Love Stay by Peggy Vaughan and James Vaughan, Ph.D.)