Welcome to May, Mental Health Awareness Month.
It’s almost one year since the visually traumatizing killing of George Floyd on Memorial Day 2020 and I think it’s safe to say that this was the most intense years for the Black community. Add the pandemic, the loss, the fear and quarantine, and the damage to Black minds…supports the urgent need for us to check out and unsubscribe from news media, social media, and tech devices that make it way too easy to access information.
What is evident is that the pain and exhaustion are real in the Black community. The trauma and grief we experience as individuals (the parents and families of these victims), and as a community (those of us who watch in silence), we are all navigating our own cycles of intake.
The world isn’t falling apart but sure feels like it. News can be violent, depressing, and very emotionally-charging.
If we think back one year ago when we all sat in disbelief as George Floyd was pinned to the ground under the knee of white cop Derek Chauvin, who recently was found guilty on all charges, for over 9 minutes, we understand the detriment of this visual on our psyche. The experience is not subtle, even though some may argue thus. It is triggering and traumatic and the more we see, the more we want to react physically.
Then one month later, the news cycled footage of Ahmaud Arbery hunted down like an animal, cornered and shot by three armed civilians as he jogged in Atlanta.
To date, the images of Black bodies being killed have not stopped. Any idea what this is doing to our brains?
Some psychologists think exposure to negative and violent media may have serious and long-lasting psychological effects beyond simple feelings of negativity. They believe we develop high levels of stress, anxiety, depression, and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Dr. Cammack believes we should release our stress and protect our joy every single day. She doesn’t believe in minimizing feelings and identity out of fear of making others feel comfortable. You should be FREE to express your viewpoints any which way.
Here are 5 things she recommends so Black people can protect their mental health.
Take a news break. Turn the TV off and get off of social media. Do a self-check-in to see everything that is impacting you.
Journaling. Helps you become present at the moment with your feelings. Writing out your feelings can help relieve the pent-up stress from vicious news cycles.
Our new Year of Well-Being Journals can help you achieve this.
Allow for joy. With so much pain in our community, it might feel out of place to find joy, however, allowing joy helps balance all the pain and anguish you may feel while consuming these images and/or videos.
Dr. Cammack says it is ok to release by doing things that you love.
Find your person, people, or place: Dr. Cammack says you should seek spaces that allow you to show up as yourself, be vulnerable, and be real; a person or people that listen and hold space for your grief.
Consider therapy. Lastly, she recommends seeking therapy that help you process and release. Your healing is your responsibility and a professional
can help you do that.
Since everyone is different, these recommendations may not work. Some people need to be in the action. If that is where it is for you, then being on the front lines of the protests is where you need to be. Or, if that isn’t it, being more mindful about what you consume and doing meditation.