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Using FordMomentum!'s STOLO to Design a Mental Health Journey that Actually Works

While FordMomentum!'s STOLO system can be used for community development, it can also be used for mental health and healing.

By: Nyasia Almestica

The Standard of Love, or STOLO, is FordMomentum!'s hallmark system and the five-pillar system is used in cities across the nation to develop new systems and community spaces.

However, the five pillars (literacy, values, self-esteem, economic power, and justice) can also be used to improve one's mental health.

"STOLO also allows space for constant self-reflection," says Co-Founder & Principal Maya Ford. "Which is important because while the tools humans use have increased in capacity exponentially, our brains have not. We are still using the same brain sizes and capacity as we had before we had smartphones, tablets, and artificially interactive devices, which has a major impact on our brains and, truthfully, our spirits. So in the same way those are tools, so is STOLO and yet it's a tool that helps us prioritize which decisions to make based on what we care about the most. These other tools are not built with what we want and especially not what we need in mind. Ultimately, STOLO helps me focus on using the right tools to build the life I desire in a way that gives me more peace, rest, and confidence. So, with STOLO, I am able to create a burn-out diversion because I always know which decisions optimize my health."

If that seems complicated, no worries, we've broken STOLO down pillar-by-pillar to show how it can aid in the mental health journey. Here is how to use STOLO to improve mental health:

Literacy - This critical pillar provides a reflective starting point. Before jumping in too deep, this pillar asks you to slow down and reflect on what terminology you have for what you are feeling. Is it actually accurate? Is it true to you? Literacy helps you understand what you're facing and it also helps you clearly communicate to others what you are feeling.

Values - Utilizing your values ensures that any solution you focus on is one that ultimately brings you fulfillment. Are you someone who prides collaboration? You may seek out group situations and therapy, while others may jump right into action trying to help others with similar problems. Values are key because no solution is really wrong, but your values help you identify which is the most right for you and your situation.

Self-esteem - Self-esteem is often misunderstood. While others may think it's about ego, it's actually about knowing your inherent worth. High self-esteem is correlated with more rest, resilience and overall happiness. And it's no wonder: Healthy self-esteem is key to motivating people to seek out solutions and identify the best ones for them, meaning they are more likely to utilize their agency to solve any problems in front of them and feel equipped to do so.

Economic Power - This pillar provides an extra layer of safety from exploitation. Any solutions, strategies and/or policies developed through STOLO should economically empower people, reversing a centuries-old trend that has shaped most of America. On it's face this may look like paying therapists more, scouting BIPOC mental health workers and/or investing in community spaces that provide healing. Individually, you may choose to work with a Black therapist or buy a journal from a local shop.

Justice - "Do not bring injustice to others." Like economic power, the justice pillar ensures that all systems we create do not bring harm to others. It operates under the notion that when we operate in equality, everyone is able to contribute to society, shaping whole communities. This can also take your mental health journey further, healing those who are frustrated "by talking about it" and finding ways to get more involved that make sense for them. Not everyone will run for office or march in the streets, but by getting more intimately familiar with your inner self, you'll be able to give more to improving the world around you.

STOLO is a seemingly complex system but Ford is adamant that it really just fleshes out what many people are already thinking through. They know they are frustrated with what's in front of them. They may even have ideas. And STOLO helps us all bring those ideas into the material world-- starting with our best selves.

Click on the link to learn more about STOLO.

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