Diversity Newsletter

January 2021

January is Poverty in America Awareness Month

Poverty Awareness Month is a month-long initiative focused on ending poverty in America. During this month we raise awareness of the growth of poverty in the USA, where more than 70% of adults have less than $1000 in their savings accounts and living below paycheck to paycheck. The poverty line for a family of four (4) is $26,200 in yearly income. A full-time, $7.25 minimum wage salary for one person working 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, with no vacation makes $15,080/year. With COVID-19 causing many people to lose their jobs, and even their homes and cars, the number of people living in poverty is changing.


During the month of January, consider doing some research into poverty and ways we can help out as citizens and people residing in this country.


Living at or below the poverty line is one of the greatest contributors to mental health issues and stress related illnesses.

Mental Health Awareness During COVID Times

What is Mental Health

Mental health, defined by the World Health Organization, is “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community”. More simply, mental health can be described as a state of well-being where a person can realize their potential.


Mental health issues can impact everything from the ability to hold down a job or complete chores and schoolwork to struggling to shower or eat or even get out of bed. These struggles can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, economic status, race, religion, or identity.


Today, more and more people are struggling with mental health, and while we slowly move from the stigmas of mental illness and going to therapy, we are more able to help those that need it. During these strange and difficult times, it is more important than ever to take care of yourself, both physically and mentally.

Low-Cost Tips and Tricks to Self-Care

Especially during this time, seeing a mental health professional as regularly as you would like may not be possible. Many mental health providers are over-full with patients, and cost money that may be hard to come by with new costs like food delivery, or losing family income. Practicing self-care means being mindful of your personal needs, be it physically, mentally, emotionally, or even spiritually. Self-care helps you destress, become more in tune with your body, and can help mitigate some effects of mental health struggles.


Some ways to practice self care include:

  • Eating a well balanced diet
  • Drinking enough water daily
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Having a reliable sleep schedule
  • Practicing self love
  • Getting in touch with your own emotions
  • Journalling
  • Taking time for yourself to do something you want
  • Participating in a hobby you enjoy
  • Doing something relaxing, like lighting a candle or taking a bubble bath
  • Scheduling social media or news breaks to give your brain some stress-free time
  • Moving your body! Exercise releases endorphins that make you feel good.
  • Going for a walk or a hike
  • Looking at or tending to plants
  • Singing your favorite song
  • Dancing with yourself or your family
  • Rewatching an old favorite movie or TV show
  • Baking cookies! You will have a yummy treat and your home will smell amazing!
  • Drawing, writing, coloring, painting, or creating something
  • Cuddling a pet
  • Meditating
  • Doing yoga
  • Connecting with your family, friends, or place of worship or religion
  • Avoiding your triggers, or things that stress you out
  • Practicing saying no when you don't want to, or can't, do something
  • Practicing not feel guilty for taking a break and not being constantly productive

Diversity & Equity Committee Member Spotlight

Every month this year we will be spotlighting a different member of the Diversity & Equity Committee. In this space they will be able to talk about what they do at ASUA, why they are on the committee, and what they like to do in their free time!



This month's spotlight is Ranika Cheeves.

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My name is Ranika Cheeves. Since June of 2019, I have been a part of the Step Up Academy family. Which I have enjoyed since starting. I currently hold the titles of Behavior Technician and Diversity and Equity Specialist. I’ve been in the Mental Health field for a little over 10 years. Outside of work I am a mother of two boys, an 11 year old and a 6-month-old. In 2017, I graduated from the University of Phoenix with my Bachelors in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Human Services. In the upcoming Spring, I will be starting my Masters program in Criminal Justice with a Behavior Analysis concentration with the plan to become a BCBA.

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