Black Lives Mental Health Matters
Updated: Mar 30
Despite abolishing slavery, and different campaigns supporting equality, cases of racism still exist and might seem as if it has rapidly gone up in the United States over recent times. Systemic Racism has an effect on mental health that is real and deserves more attention. Black people face discrimination everywhere, at workplaces, schools, hospitals, or in the malls where they are given biased services or treated as lesser beings.
Over the last few weeks, we have witnessed protests in many states against police brutality towards black people. The George Floyd incident has triggered an extensive discussion regarding racism towards black communities and how it affects their day to day lives, including their mental health.
According to numerous published research, the impact of racism is so strong that those suffering from racism may suffer from mental issues such as stress, anxiety, and depression. Using drugs, hostility, and aggression has also been associated with racism.
The impact of racism on mental health
Racial prejudice means a preconceived opinion people have for others because of their skin color. Bias includes aggression, harassment, bullying, and prejudicial statements against persons. Many people of color live in fear of being victimized, which can undermine their motivation, hope, and resilience. Harsh comments directed to persons of a different race are likely to have adverse effects on them even if they were uttered unknowingly. These influences can lead to low esteem, depression, or poor academic performance.
People have been denied jobs despite their qualifications because of their race, which makes them feel devalued. While being employed, many face discrimination at their work stations, causing more stress and sometimes resulting in quitting the job to avoid further humiliation or negative effects in their confidence and mental stability.
In schools, racism is rampant, and many students of color report to face hatred and discrimination. Socializing and playing with children from a majority race can be difficult, causing feelings of isolation and stress. This can result in grades drastically decreasing, causing anxiety, stress, or outright depressed.
In some communities, there is still discrimination where the major race resists from living in the same locality with people of color.
Within most minority communities, more so in colored race communities, there are many misconceptions about the profession dealing with mental health. People with psychological problems fear being labeled as mad or weak; therefore, they may shy away from seeking professional help. They may fail to seek professional advice because, in these institutions, they are likely to face racial discrimination, and their biggest fear is that they will be misdiagnosed. Furthermore, where they are lucky to get prescribed medication from psychiatrists or general practitioners, they may still miss other vital interventions such as group therapy and psychotherapy. Group therapies and other crucial interventions are less likely to be present in the minority community settlements, although they are vital. Racism is an issue that needs to be addressed so that they can acquire proper treatment without prejudice or judgment.
What Can We Do?
Don’t force conversations
Yes, with everything going on, it might even feel as if there is a sense of duty to continue the conversation about what’s going on. But, be mindful that some colleagues may not want to talk about these issues. For example, some people might be triggered with symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder by just talking about police brutality. I’m not saying to stop having these kinds of conversations, I’m saying do not force them. The conversation must continue until we can real change, but be mindful of other people's feelings.
Check-in with your community
If you are black, white, or a white-passing person, ask the black people in your life how they are doing with everything going on and offer your support. Make sure you give your brothers and sisters (no matter what color) the support they need.
Seeing Licensed Therapists and/or Support Groups
Seeing a professional therapist can help you deal with your feelings. As humans, we all have our regular stress of working, paying the bills, making sure you and the family has enough money to eat, cloth and having to pay for gas, and if you are part of the black community, on top of the regular stress there’s the stress of racism, discrimination and the thought of your children getting discriminated as well. It's tough. Seeing a therapist or participating in a support group that is going through the same may help you cope with what’s going on.
Be an advocate against racism no matter your skin color
Being not only helps with the necessary change in this world, but being part of something that can potentially help the future of your family gives you a sense of purpose.
Your Therapy Friend,
Sofia Robirosa is the owner of Infinite Therapeutic Services and is a Perinatal & Relationships Expert. She offers individual, couples
, and family counseling to individuals seeking to enhance their relationship with their children and significant other. Her private practice is located in Plantation, FL. She attended Nova Southeastern University for both her Bachelor and Master Degrees in Marriage and Family Therapy and in Business Administration. She is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, a Perinatal Mental Health Certified Professional, and a Leader in Active Parenting for children and teens. She loves her family, which consists of her husband, daughter and son, and two dogs. Some of her interests outside of work include spending time outdoors, traveling, and dining. Read more about her at: www.infinitetherapeuticservices.com and follow her on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/infinitetherapy/