Your “Mental Health” Matters

Christopher BrownDr. Christopher Brown

 2+5 = 7 lives extinguishedAltonSterlingPhilandoCastile

2+5 = 7 families forever changedDallas Police Officers

2+5 = A Hurting NationDallas Police Chief David Brown 

Over the last few days we have seen disturbing images and reports of violence that have triggered high emotional levels in all of us.   Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to the families of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile and the 5 officers who loss their life in the line of duty in Dallas, Texas.

In the troubling times that we find ourselves in it is increasingly important that we make sure that we mentally protect ourselves from the traumatic images that are being circulated on TV and social media.   As the African American culture has a shared traumatic past we often internalize the troubles of our brothers and sisters across the nation.   While this bond of solidarity is important and part of our culture we must take measures to be sure that it doesn’t take too much of a toll on our mental health.   Whether the images we watch connect with us personally or culturally we have to make sure that we ensure that we are maintaining our mental health not only for our families, and ourselves but also to constructively address the issues that assault our mental well-being.

Below is a synopsis and modification of an article written by Karen Attiah (From Washington Post July 24 2015) with mental health tips to help all of us deal with the stressful situations that surround us.   We need to be mindful of these tips not only for ourselves, but also for friends and family members who may have unhealthy coping skills.

For the original article please go to the following link-

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/wp/2015/07/24/how-black-people-can-emotionally-protect-themselves-in-the-age-of-blacklivesmatter/

 

  1. It’s okay not to watch the latest video of brutality against people of color. Just because you choose not to watch doesn’t mean you are ignoring what’s going on. Remember the images that you see may trigger emotions that are hard to control and it may be difficult to forget the images.
  2. Take a break from trying to educate everyone about race and racism and from engaging with racist trolls online. The world and the people you are interacting with did not get this way overnight and it is uncommon that you truly change an opinion on social media.   It is, however, a great way to introduce unnecessary stress in your life and if you are not careful you can type a comment that you will regret later.
  3. Get away from the computer altogether and get back into nature. Get outside, if you can. Get some sun. Walk in a park. Taking a walk is physically healthy and emotionally allows you to separate from your source of stress.   Just remember not to check social media during your stroll.
  4. Create something. Find productive ways to expend your energy.   Write, paint or play music.   Just find something you enjoy that allows you to disconnect from your source of stress.
  5. It is okay to feel sad. It is okay to be angry. It is okay to cry. Don’t discount how you feel just because you saw something that triggered you on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. No, you don’t have to “get over” racism. Your feelings are valid and denying those feelings inhibits your ability to process those feelings in a healthy manner.
  6. Watch funny movies or comedy skits. Find a way to laugh, however you can.  “Laughter is the best medicine.”
  7. Human touch reduces stress and anxiety. Find that friend, partner or family member you can hug. Seriously, people who receive more hugs are more likely to ward off stress-induced sickness.
  8. Physical and spiritual activity. Again, this is about expending energy. Go for a run, walk in a mall or take a fitness class. Whatever it is, find healthy, safe ways to physically express your feelings. Spiritual prayer and meditation are effective ways to deal with stressors that are outside of your control.
  9. Sleep well and eat well. Stress and anxiety can cause changes in appetite and sleeping habits. Avoid watching TV or engaging social media in the hour prior to bedtime.   Any “breaking news” or new “troll” could lead to agitation resulting in racing thoughts and difficulty getting proper rest.
  10. Reach out for help if you need it. Surround yourself with support. Talk to your friends. Talk to family members. Talk to pastors, clergymen, anyone you think will lend an understanding, sympathetic ear about how you feel. On the flip side, reach out to others you think might be struggling. They may appreciate it more than you know. If you need to, talk with a professional counselor who understands the impacts of racism on mental health.Columbus Area Integrated Health Services, Inc. is a culturally competent integrated health center with staff that can help if you feel that the stress of life is too much to handle.   Also if you see someone who has trouble coping or has chosen unhealthy ways to cope with the stress please talk with them and see if they are willing to make and appointment.   For more information please call (614)252-0711 or visit the website at http://www.columbus-area.com.

 

The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on ColumbusBlack.com and written by Dr. Christopher Brown are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on ColumbusBlack.com.