Don’t Conform, Stand Up and Stand Out!

Sometimes, do we feel like we don’t belong? Do we feel like we’re not part of the popular group on campus? At school? To be in that group, are you asked to sacrifice “who you are” as a person? If you’re older, do you recall a time when you tried to “fit in”? A time, when you did or said something you knew was wrong…just so you could feel like you were cool? To be a part of that crowd?

I can recall times in my life when I gave in. Times when I tried to be cool, tried to act hard, tried to go against my nature…all for the purpose of fitting in or being cool. My nature you might ask…I’m mild, calm, not really tough unless pushed to the limits, patient, kind, respectful…that is me in a nutshell. So why did I do it? Why did I smoke that, drink too much of that, treat that person that way, curse that, steal that, cheat on that…Why did I fight so hard to be so wrong? Why do you? Why did you? I am assuming we all aren’t perfect, but if this doesn’t apply to you…please share your strengths in the comment section. For others, answering WHY (i.e. fear, teasing, bullied, risk-taking, peer pressure) can be the first steps to “Standing Up and Standing Out”.

If trying to fit into the wrong crowd is something that bothers you, then allow me to offer you some encouragement. If this is a battle you overcame some time ago, please share your strategies with others reading this post. First, just to cover our basis…what is the wrong crowd? Chances are, if people around you are repeatedly hostile, arguing, causing strife, using illegal drugs, lazy, divisive, rebellious to authority, promiscuous sexually, angry, or even place money and material goods over people; chances are you don’t want these individuals to be your closest friends. This may not be the crowd you want to “run with” regularly (or at all). Why? Simply put, their negativity can “rub off” on you. They can bring you down, burden you physically and mentally, or place you in serious trouble or danger.

At this point, you might be thinking: “Well, everyone is bad…so I guess I’ll have no friends”. Although we all make mistakes, everyone is not of the wrong crowd. Everyone is not bad! When you don’t conform, you stand out! Standing up for your beliefs, for what you know is right (i.e. fair, moral, and ethical) attracts other positive people to you! When you stand out, it becomes easier for good people to find you! Furthermore, when you lead by good example, others will follow. Your leadership creates a path away from conforming with the wrong crowd, to establishing a good group of friends of your own. So when the WRONG crowd tries to put you down, Stand Up! When the WRONG crowd asks or tries to force you to be in their group, Stand Out! Be Strong, Be Encouraged, Be Comforted… for greatness comes to those who do good!


Gauging Behavioral Health in America

SAMHSA | March 5, 2015

A new report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) details important trends — many positive — in Americans’ behavioral health, both nationally and on a state-by-state basis.

SAMHSA’s new report, the “National Behavioral Health Barometer” (Barometer), provides data about key aspects of behavioral healthcare issues affecting American communities including rates of serious mental illness, suicidal thoughts, substance use, underage drinking, and the percentages of those who seek treatment for these disorders. The Barometer shows this data at the national level, and for each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The Barometer indicates that the behavioral health of our nation is improving in some areas, particularly among teenagers. For example, past month use of both illegal drugs and cigarettes has fallen for youth ages 12-17 from 2009 to 2013 (from 10.1 percent to 8.8 percent for illegal drugs and 9.0 percent to 5.6 percent for cigarettes). Past month binge drinking among children ages 12-17 has also fallen from 2009 to 2013 (from 8.9 percent to 6.2 percent).

The Barometer also shows more people are getting the help they need in some needed areas. The number of people receiving help for a substance use problem has increased six percent from 2009 to 2013. It also shows that the level of adults experiencing serious mental illness who received help rose from 62.9 percent in 2012 to 68.5 percent in 2013.

The data in the Barometer is drawn from various federal surveys and provides both a snapshot of the current status of behavioral health nationally and by state, and trend data on some of these key behavioral health issues over time. “The Barometer provides new insight into what is happening on the ground in states across the country,” said SAMHSA’s Administrator, Pamela S. Hyde. “It provides vital information on the progress being made in each state as well as the challenges before them. States and local communities use this data to determine the most effective ways of addressing their behavioral healthcare needs.”

The Barometer also provides analyses by gender, age group and race/ethnicity, where possible, to further help public health authorities more effectively identify and address behavioral health issues occurring within their communities, and to serve as a basis for tracking and addressing behavioral health disparities.

For the first time, the Barometer provides analyses broken down by poverty level (above or below) and health insurance status. This data can help provide researchers, policy makers, public health authorities and others a better understanding of how income and insurance coverage affect access and utilization of behavioral healthcare services.

To view and download copies of the national or any state Behavioral Health Barometer, please visit the SAMHSA web site at

Trucks: More Support for Wearing Seatbelts

Our nation depends on truck drivers to deliver goods and services safely and efficiently. Yet, crashes involving large trucks continue to take a toll on truck drivers, their passengers, other road users, businesses, and the community. Overall, 317,000 motor vehicle crashes involving large trucks were reported to police in 2012, according to the latest Vital Signs report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The estimated cost of truck and bus crashes to the United States economy was $99 billion that same year.

Continue reading “Trucks: More Support for Wearing Seatbelts”

Helping to End Violence Against Women

Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.
Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.

On Thursday, February 28, 2013, Congress acted in a bipartisan on the behalf of women. The House vote of 286 – 138, coupled with the Senate’s passing of the “Violence Against Women Act” (VAWA) of the 112th Congress in 2012, progressed the law and readied it for President Obama’s for signature. The last VAWA expired in 2011. When the former law was passed in 1994, the foundational law helped the country to recognize the devastation of domestic violence. The law supported the change of perspective among police officers in how they treated domestic abuse, from a private family matter to a serious offense. Additionally, mandatory arrest policies and grant funding for research was also implemented because of the law. The 2013 version of VAWA extends the work of its predecessor.

Many women advocacy groups believe the newly passed VAWA bill will strengthen the protections of specific women sub-groups who are at extreme risk for domestic violence. They credit the former bill for saving thousands of lives over the past two decades. According the U.S. Bureau of Justice (2013), since 1993, intimate partner violence has decreased 64%. Still, approximately 80% of intimate partner victims of violence are female, with women ages 18 – 24 and 25 – 34 being most at risk. More work needs to be done, especially in single mother households where young females have ten times the risk of intimate partner violence when compared to households with married adults with children. The actions in this bill will work to build on gains made in the past, while targeting efforts at those most at risk. The bill may not end all violence against women, but it does build on gains made by subsequent legislation while also modernize efforts to confront the scourge of domestic violence.

– Larrell L. Wilkinson

A Beautiful Moment for a Beautiful Game

Boateng Walks Off Pitch due to Racial Abuse
Boateng Walks Off Pitch due to Racial Abuse AC Milan Soccer Player Boateng Walks Off Pitch due to Racial Abuse

Many times in today’s society, people are torn down for standing up for something they believe in, especially when that something flies in the face of conventional wisdom or login.  Many soccer fans around the globe were dismayed when soccer player Kevin-Prince Boateng walked of the field in protest after being the victim of racial taunts and abuse earlier this year.  Most importantly, their dismay was not directed at Boateng, but was directed at the soccer fans that caused the disruption.  Following the example of their comrade, the rest of the players and the officials followed Boateng example, and walked off the pitch.  Officially, the friendly match was suspended definitely with official notes stating “AC Milan leaves the pitch after racist abuse by a minority of Pro Patria fans at Boateng, (Mbaye) Niang, (Urby) Emanuelson and (Sulley) Muntari. The rest of the fans in the stands disassociated themselves from such racist events.”

Now, I don’t believe that racism and/or many other -isms have gone away in 2013.  Don’t get me wrong, progress has been made in the United States and globally concerning prejudice and racism.  Still, it is important to have a comprehensive perspective concerning that progress.  In truth, for every few forward steps, there have been regressive movements and setbacks as well.  To quote Boateng on Twitter after the incident: “Shame that these things still happen… #StopRacismforever.”  In this gesture, I am reminded of the larger picture here.  Teams WALKED OUT of game, professionals MARCHED OFF a field, and authorities CALLED OFF a game that spectators paid good money to see and onlookers and fans readied to see the results.  The result, the world saw a demonstration of peaceful protest and ultimately the triumph of the human spirit.  The globe witnessed a beautiful moment for the beautiful game!

– Larrell Wilkinson

Finding the Beauty in Even the Dormant Stages of Life

Dormant Rose Bush

By Khalia Wilkinson
Today, while enjoying my morning walk I passed by a rose bush that I’m used to seeing in full bloom. This bush is usually very beautiful and full of life, with enchanting red roses layered one on top of the other. When I walked by it today, it took me by surprise; the appearance of this shrub was not appealing at all.  In fact, twigs, debris, and thorns heavily engulfed this sad little bush.  I thought, “Wow.  How ugly, dry and unattractive this is.”  Not being a gardener, I even thought that the owners of this bush should maybe pull it up because it was so ugly and lifeless.  The winter months had made it an eyesore.  I then took a look around me.  The trees and the grass were also very dry and brittle.  In that moment another set of thoughts quickly came to mind.  “Just give it time” I thought, “this rose bush will come back around and be beautiful once again very soon!”  This thought put a smile on my face.  I took a calming deep breath then heard my spirit say, “find the beauty in even the dormant stages of life.”

Bright Red Rose

To be dormant is typically preached against.  In fact, this word is normally received negativity.  But today, there was a spin on the word to me.  I appreciated it and received it with great joy! defines this word as “lying asleep or as if asleep; inactive; a state of rest or inactivity; inoperative; unasserted; not erupting; to be in a state of minimal activity with cessation of growth, either as a reaction to adverse conditions or as part of an organism’s normal annual rhythm.”

The reason why being dormant is so frustrating to many of us is because we have become a world of movers-and-shakers, go-getters, and high achievers; and there’s nothing wrong with that!  In fact, there are consequences in being the opposite which is slack or stagnant. However, we have become so focused and driven until we no longer understand the natural rhythms of life.  We have begun swimming upstream, pushing against the current far too hard.  We no longer appreciate the time of rest and inactivity that is needed.  We do not take the time to slow down, rest, and regroup.  In fact, to find the beauty in this is very difficult and challenging to do.

But today, I received that it is a must.  To everything there truly is a season.  And that even goes for the seasons of dormancy.  Now, I realize that this is not a discussion that one normally has, especially during the beginning of a New Year when resolutions are soaring high; however, being still and inactive for a moment can benefit you more than you think.  So when you feel the “tug” and your season is upon you to act in a dormant state, rest in it and enjoy all of the beauty that it has to offer!

Community of People

People have Ideas to Share

Community of People
It seems like these days are about division and self-interest…at least in America. If this sounds like a negative post for a site such as PHAME-US, then this prose is hitting its mark. Perhaps leaving an election year (2012) of partisan divide in politics, with themes positioning those who have versus those who have not, added to the separation of states. Today, we recognize states in our country, not by their mottos, their cities, or their flags. They are now recognized as being “red” or “blue”. It is almost like we have forgotten that we are the United States of America.
I am reminded of the words in the beginning John Donne’s Meditation 17 in 1624, “No man is an island, entire of itself. Each is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” Similarly, I think of the bible’s interpretation (Message version) of Matthew 5: 9, “You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.”
To this end, I am hoping that this website will be a site of cooperation, with perhaps some compromise. But mostly, I am hopeful this site will increase compliments for the deserving, promote collaboration among the interested, share in the commitments of others, campaign for that which needs advocacy, and most of all…be an online community of people.