Speaking Mental Health
Forward Times Mental Health Advisors
Mental health awareness plays a very important role in reducing the stigma that so many people within the Black community face. Each year millions of Americans face the unsettling reality of living with a mental illness. People of color generally live differently from those who have not been oppressed. Living with these burdens leads to a psychological and emotional burden that is deeper than what others may face.
Living with the ongoing trauma of being stereotyped and devalued is not the only thing that has caused burdens. The pathway to mental health begins with basic needs being met. Clean air, food, water, shelter, clothing, etc. are necessary for human survival. Without these resources, we may not feel safe, have difficulty securing and maintaining a job, and develop poor health. Lack of safety is a major reason for mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD. Looking back on the past year, we have experienced several distressing events that may have a severe negative impact on our mental health. During the pandemic we have not been able to obtain many food items and personal care products that are needed. We observed the murder of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and others causing us to feel angry and unsafe. As the pandemic continues, we were not able to connect with family and friends, leaving many feeling alone and isolated. Entering this new year, we experienced the insurrection of the capitol, again leaving many feeling angry and unprotected. Most recently, the power outages and water supply issues from the winter freeze caused many of us to not have all of our basic needs being met.
All of these things combined have had a serious impact on mental well-being. You may notice that your attention span is shorter and your patience with others may be limited as well. Taking the time to relax or do something that you enjoy doing will help to regulate your emotions and allow you to calm yourself. Listening to soft music and practicing deep breathing exercises may assist you in blocking out distractions and reducing feelings of anxiety or stress. It is important to understand that everyone is in this together and it is okay to seek professional help. Reaching out to people you trust to vent and share your experiences and emotions is a healthy way to reduce the pressures that we are experiencing. Finding unique ways to connect with others and check in regularly with family and friends strengthens bonds and helps us to relate to others when needed.