Three Ways African Americans can Support Their Mental Health in the Fight for Equality and Justice
The last few weeks have been a major push forward for a better future for the African American community. It’s also likely been a period of heavy social media usage, to stay updated on protests, donations, and awareness. Some of this has been beneficial: it’s imperative to stay informed and active. However, there are some less obvious negative side effects that may affect mental health. Scrolling through seeing fellow supporters getting hurt or locked up can take a toll on someone's mental health, especially for people of color. There are a plethora of different ways African Americans and others can show support while taking care of themselves, such as taking breaks from social media, finding places to donate and sign petitions, and checking up on one another while educating themselves and others.
1. Find Ways to Show Support
It’s important to continue to put your mental health first and learn how and what you can do to protect it. For those who aren’t comfortable marching and going out to protests, there are more options to show support and fight for this cause. Donating and signing petitions not only show your support but provide that feeling of being involved and creating change.
Donations are always open. There are over a hundred options to donate to different causes that are all related to the fight of justice and equality for African Americans. Many GoFundMe’s have been made to show support for those who have lost their lives, for non-profit businesses and organizations, for black owned businesses and more. According to David Kinnear, “Generosity allows people to feel some form of pleasure, such as pride or happiness”. No matter how big or small the donation, it still contributes toward the larger goal of helping others and bringing about change.
Petitions are another easy way to support – most of them simply just ask for a name. Petitions are great for bringing about awareness, especially because they are easy to share: by informing others, one can create a domino effect so others can get involved too.
2. Take Breaks from Social Media
Nearly two-thirds of American adults (65%) use social networking sites. As of recently, more have been using these platforms to be updated on what’s happening with COVID-19 and the current Civil Rights movement. According to Tom Rosenstiel of the American Press Institute, “94% of Twitter news users get their news either through scrolling their timelines or browsing tweets of those they follow. Other features are used far less often: For instance, just 34% of Twitter news users say they get news from trending topics and 30% use search.”
While it’s great to show support or educate yourself via social media, there’s a downside to too much scrolling. Seeing too much violent or offensive content can take a toll on one’s mental health, especially for those who mirror the same complexion as those in the videos.
Taking breaks from social media can help maintain some balance. You’ll be able to use your talents for good and take care of yourself and others by:
Getting more rest
Catching up on TV series or movies
Discovering a new skill
Practicing in talents and gifts
Catching up with old and new friend
3. Check Up On One Another
Oppressed for over 400 years, African Americans today face many of the same challenges their ancestors did. To add to the list, many African Americans also don’t have full trust when it comes to mental health treatments. Many don’t speak up about their mental health issues because they don’t see someone of their same skin complexion helping them in that profession.
According to Mental Health America, African Americans may worry that mental health care practitioners are not culturally competent enough to treat their specific issues: “Some Black/African American patients have reported experiencing racism and microaggression from therapists. Stigma and judgment prevent Black/African Americans from seeking treatment for their mental illnesses. Research indicates that Black/African Americans believe that mild depression or anxiety would be considered “crazy” in their social circles. Furthermore, many believe that discussions about mental illness would not be appropriate even among family.”
To turn around this stigma, it’s important that people educate themselves on their own personal mental health and what they deem is best for them to treat it. It’s also important to check up on one another during these times. Ways to help yourself and others protect their mental health can include:
Seeking help from professionals.
Reaching out to trusted allies for help
Educating yourself on Mental Health
It’s a time to fight for justice and equality. Take care of your precious mental health when it’s needed the most. Donating and signing petitions can boost your feeling of impact, power, and meaning. Supporting others can make you feel more connected and confident. Finding a healthy balance between being active on social media and taking breaks is beneficial. And, connecting with and supporting others can make you mentally happier, healthier, and more effective in your mission.
Zipporah Dorsey has a love of storytelling which shows in her writing. Her long term goal is to continue to tell stories but also inform others in her writing. She dreams for her work to be shared all over for others to enjoy.