By Leah Harris

Resources and Tools for Coping with the Pain of Race-Based Trauma During These Times

Even before COVID-19 and the national uprising following the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd, Black communities have had to cope with the mental health impacts of structural racism and police brutality. In 2018, researchers published the results of a study in The Lancet, which found a “substantial” impact of police killings on the mental health of Black Americans–especially those living in states where the police violence occurred. 

Yet in line with healthcare disparities across the board, Black communities have historically had the least access to mental health supports, especially culturally relevant ones, largely due to a shortage of mental health professionals of color. However, as nearly all mental health supports have gone virtual in the pandemic, and as the need for such supports in Black communities skyrockets, there has been an impressive groundswell of resources designed to support people and families through one of the most turbulent times in our nation’s history. A growing number of Black advocates and activists are speaking out and encouraging each another not to sacrifice self-care to the resistance. “Looking out for Black people includes looking out for you, too,” writes Rachel Wilkerson Miller in Vice News.

Public health advocate Brandon J. Johnson was moved to make a YouTube video in support of his community’s mental health after George Floyd’s murder. “Watching a video of someone so callously taking the life of our own for literally no reason at all can be quite traumatizing and have a negative impact on our mental health,” Johnson said. Joining a growing number of advocates, Johnson counsels against excessive consumption of videos with violent or triggering content. Care-workers universally suggest that people disable the video auto-play function on social media platforms, so they are able to have more control over what content is consumed.

Here are just some of the resources made available by and for Black people, at free or low cost, for navigating these times. 

Black Girl In Om. Founded by Lauren Ash, Black Girl In Om is a global platform providing a “space for women of color to breathe easy,” including holistic wellness workshops focused on journaling, meditation, and yoga. Ash recently created a new digital initiative called The Circle that provides members with journal writing prompts, thought exercises, and guided meditations to further support black women and women of color around the world.

The Nap Ministry. Poet and performance artist Tricia Hersey founded The Nap Ministry in 2016 to raise awareness about the liberating power of rest, proclaiming sleep deprivation as a racial and social justice issue, and saying “we believe rest is a form of resistance and reparations.” On Instagram, Hersey shares tips for more restorative rest, shares ideas on Black liberation, and offers tools such as a curated Spotify playlist for working with grief and loss.

Therapy for Black Men is a directory to help men of color in their search for a therapist. Using the directory, men can search by therapist location and specialization. The results will display therapists’ credentials, location, and the issues they treat. Men will also find a wide range of resources aimed at helping them to locate a culturally-competent therapist.

Family Care, Community Care and Self Care Tool Kit: Healing in the Face of Cultural Trauma. This toolkit created by the American Association of Black Psychologists was written in the wake of resistance to police violence that would become the Black Lives Matter Movement. The authors of the toolkit write: “One of the most important keys to maintaining and even enhancing our health and sense of well­being in this time of great challenge to Black people is the strengthening of our sense of family and community, and the deepening of our bonds of trust. For Black people, ​family­care and community­care, like self­care, are radical acts​.”

We hope the resources mentioned here, as well as the ones below, will be a support in painful and uncertain times. Please pass them on to anyone who may need them.

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