Today is #WorldMentalHealthDay

Today is #WorldMentalHealthDay. The first steps to eliminating human suffering and struggles are to seek understanding and practice compassion.

In the US, 1 in 5 adults experienced mental illness in 2019. That translate into either we, ourselves, have experienced it or we are in probably in close proximity to someone who has.

Mental illness stigma is pervasive and must be eradicated.

Stigma perpetuates shame, myths, and the ostracizing of members of our community.

Reversing the stigma means getting the facts and data, talking about mental health like we do the weather, and promoting therapy and medical treatment like we do for physical illness.

Everyone needs to be part of the solution. In Detroit, Debbie Nelson coordinates a juvenile mental health court program that serves youth. Her goal is to ensure the youth receive treatment and services so they can experience have pursue happiness and success in school, family and friend relationships, and life. Dr. Anita Caprice Msc.D. (she/hers) volunteers and raises the awareness of suicide prevention with on her Facebook page and social media platforms. In fact, probably every celebrity you know (follow) will hashtag #WorldMentalHealthDay today.

But a hashtag and what others do are not enough; we need you. We need your voice and your action.

If you do nothing else today, do these three things:

  1. Take five minutes to look at the infographics on the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) website, http://www.nami.org.
  2. Talk with someone about what you learned.
  3. Share the NAMI link and this post on your social media pages.

Understanding and compassion are foundational to creating inclusion, and what you learn and do today can make a difference.

Photo credit: Word Press

Inclusion Idea: The Term “Female Leaders”

“In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders.” –Sheryl Sandberg

As a woman, I who can’t wait til that future is here.

The Female Quotient’s LinkedIn post of Ms. Sandberg’s quote was accompanied with this question “When will the term ‘female leaders’ finally become obsolete?”

Translation: what must happen to create the future, the future of leadership, I want to see and hopefully live in. Here are my immediate responses:

It will require that females of all races/ethnicities and other identity intersections (ability, religion, etc,) are in positions of leadership. Otherwise the headline changes from fist female leader to first African Ameican, Hispanic, Asian or Latin American female leader.

Also, female workplace accommodations like lactation rooms have to become as common place as restrooms and attention must be given to design and placement.

Artist: Zen Brown

It will involve the normalizing gender equality such as paternity leave. Men supported and taking time off at the birth and other critical stages in their children lives as it meets the values and needs of their family. Family leave without career derailment.

The term ‘female leaders’ will become obsolete when we use the gender based equity research to identify what needs to be done (solutions), plan (how and when), and implement those plans.

The Michigan Women Lawyers Association of Michigan (WLAM) & Black Women Lawyers Association of Michigan (BWLAM) are looking for All Michigan Lawyers who want to work on the solution in 2021.

It’s time to talk about and create the future.

Week 16 Inclusion Idea: We Will Get Busy and Forget About Inclusion

I wrote and published 14 weeks of blogs. Then I forgot to publish Week 15. Then it slipped my mind to even write the article for Week 16.

Busyness is a powerful antagonist of inclusion.

We are too busy to acknowledge people. We are polite but rarely do we really hold a conversation where we are genuinely interested in what the other person is saying. Don’t believe me: after a loved one finishes talking how often do you paraphrase their thoughts to ensure you got their important points or how often do you ask clarifying questions?And that’s with people we care about.

We are so focused on pushing an agenda forward and getting things done.

We don’t have time for things that get in the way or slow us down. Practicing inclusion slows us down. It’s not an innate skill or ability that comes natural to the wiring of our brain. There are not incentives or awards or demerits and punishments every time you do or do not include someone. There may not even been enough social support to keep us interested, motivated, and engaged in inclusion. We can fake Inclusion at the office or limit inclusion to workplace interaction. Isn’t that why many company purchase stock photos? We can punch out at 5pm and leave inclusion on our desk until the next workday.

For me, even with all intentionality and deliberation, I did not write my Week 16 Article. I became too busy to write about inclusion. And, the upcoming weeks are pretty jammed too. Will Week 17 make it to print?

Honestly, I can’t make a promise for that or at least, I can’t say when. I’m not throwing the towel in. My goal is to write the article because I think we all need to share thoughts on inclusion— stories, tips, lessons learned, new science, etc. But what’s even more important is to live and practice inclusion. I choose the living over the writing. Busyness required I prioritize but not give up what’s important to me.

I want inclusion outside of my workplace and even off the page. I most want to live it—have all types of interactions across the dimensions of diversity. I want to learn about others from different background, be respectful, and make world resources and happiness available to all. I may not have ample time to write about on schedule, but I never want to be too busy to live it.

Here’s Week 16’s article with a promise of more to come but no promise of exactly when…

Until then spread inclusion wherever you go even after 5!!

Week 15 Inclusion Idea: Familial Status

I’m attending my eldest daughter’s wedding. As a mom, she will add wife and stepmother to her list of titles. Today is a reminder that familial status is a diversity dimension that I live personally and experience professionally in my legal career on a daily basis. Here are a few observations.

Inclusion Idea

1. Children in Blended Families. For the children, it doesn’t matter who they are related to by blood. They just need to know there are loving, supportive adults present in their lives. 

2. Adults in Blended Families. The adults have to really act like adults and sometimes it isn’t easy. You have to put the children’s need center stage. Biological parents have legal rights and responsibilities. Stepparents, not so much. When adults use their words, remained focused on the outcome of raising well adjusted kids, make commitments that align with that, and keep those commitments, they can solve most issues. 

3. Explaining Family Ties to Others. It may be complicated and sometimes awkward explaining the family ties in introductions. Mike Brady did you adopt Marsha, Jan, and Cindy or are they your stepdaughters? I don’t know how they became the Brady Brunch. Making introductions without explaining the family history works for me. I know it may leave a perplexed look on the face of others. But really do they need to know who actually fathered whom. If so, why? 

4. Court systems were not designed with families in mind. Judges can rule based on precedents and statutes, but families need mire than decisions that determine who’s right or wrong or who owes whom something to function on an ongoing basis. Court do not have the expertise or resources to govern the ongoing relationships in a family unit. The blended family is even more complex and beyond the court’s design. Mediation, family counseling, and other systems are able to help each family address circumstances with their unique needs and interests when the adults involved need help. For me, Imago with Jesse and Melva were right on time. (See https://www.yourtango.com/experts/jesse-and-melva-johnson.)

Families are not a monolith and the images of what family means continue to expand. The common threads are love and commitment. 

Of course, there are many more lessons I’ve learned and with the wedding there are certainly more to follow.

Wedding Rehearsal at Castle Farms, Charlevoix, MI

Black Women’s Equal Pay Day

August 3rd is the 2021 Black Women’s Equal Pay Day.

For Black Women Lawyers, the Black Women’s Equal Pay Day movement forward requires engaged allies.

Read and share my article in the Detroit Legal News on a ways for allies to act and support the cause.

http://www.legalnews.com/detroit/1501914/

Black Women’s Equal Pay Day