July is: Minority Mental Health Month
Also known as BIPOC Mental Health Month. As language continues to evolve, many people and groups are choosing to use BIPOC: Black, Indigenous people, and People of Color to acknowledge the unique mental health differences and needs of members of each population.
It has been emotionally challenging and draining to live in this space, the social and political space of being Black in America at this time. Conversations are challenging, working as a professional counselor is challenging, being intentionally in tune with my own personal feelings and needs has been challenging. My mental health, as a Black American woman has needed a lot of attention. Personally I am working through my own emotional stuff, while simultaneously showing up to facilitate self-awareness and understanding for hundreds of others and their emotional stuff.
I will say the following things from a personal perspective as well as one who bears witness to the narratives of many others. These are some of the ways in which we have been affected by the murders of Black men and women at the hands of law enforcement and racist Americans, and the subsequent social and political tensions of the day.
1) We have to do our own identity work to understand what being Black in America means to us as individuals with unique experiences
2) We are triggered and at times retraumatized by our own experiences of racism
3) We have a heightened sense of fear for our partners, children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and friends knowing that we cannot give them 100% protection from racism, which includes the threat of death because of racism
4) We have to figure out how we can advocate for ourselves at work where there might be microaggressions taking place
5) When given a platform now to speak, we still struggle to speak with 100% authenticity because of fears of losing our jobs, being shamed, being dismissed, or any other future repercussions
6) We have become consciously aware of how we have been taken advantage of in some of our work places
7) We have become consciously aware of our work-load and pay rate discrepancies
8) We have become consciously aware of the responsibilities put on us to help make our spheres of influence truly diverse and equitable (which is a heavy weight to bear)
9) We have to make choices about protesting or staying indoors amid fears of COVID-19
10) We question our enoughness if we don’t advocate in a way that others are advocating
To sum this up, these experiences leave many Black American, myself included, stressed, anxious, fearful, upset, angry, bothered, uncertain, surprised, suspicious, exhausted, sad, depressed, and numb (just to name a few of the emotions we might be feeling at any given moment.)
As a Black woman living in America, I encourage all other Black people, Indigenous people, and People of Color to please take care of your mental and emotional health. I said in another post, I have stated to my clients, and I will state it again. Your body was not created to hold stress for prolonged periods of time. Just because we are in a heightened stressful situation here in America, that does not mean that our bodies can also be in a heightened state of stress consistently. We need to take care of ourselves, we need to engage in restorative practices, we need to set our own boundaries, we need to give ourselves permission to rest as we fight. We need to engage our community and support systems. We are feeling a lot of feels and you have every right to do so. You are valued, loved, and very important. Please take good care of yourselves.