At this very moment, the Black community is being shattered not only by tragic losses from epidemic COVID-19, but through violence brought by negative experiences with police and systems of authority.
People of color are being burdened with stressors that leave a long-term impact on a structural, interpersonal and individual level. Wealth differences between non-white communities and others are severe, which includes less disposable income and generational wealth that reduce the resources that can be effective during not only a pandemic, but a recession as well.
These types of daily experiences affect one’s mental and physical health, sometimes on a deeper level. These encounters also affect families, as they are challenged to provide resources and nurture their children while carrying heavy mental and emotional weight.
How Does Racism & Violence Affect Mental Health?
Racism is a grave, prevalent issue in the US. There is a clear link between racism and anxiety, stress, and other mental and physical health problems. Encounters of racism and violence have significant negative effects on both physical and mental health for Black Americans.
For instance, If a family member experiences racial violence, it has a traumatic impact on his survivors, which is his/her family, friends, neighbor, in practical terms, everyone who knew him/her.
If we look at it another way, when any Black person sees, or hears about, another Black individual having a negative encounter with or involving police, they go through what is referred to as “collective trauma.”
Collective trauma takes place when the impact is felt by an entire group of people, or a community, or even a nation as a result of violence.
Similarly, racism, in respect of non-white adults and youth, impacts virtually every element of mental and physical health. Several events of racial discrimination, either individually or as a part of a larger systemic pattern, have been linked to feeling unsafe within their own or other communities. The thought that they may not be able to see tomorrow is a penetrating concern for the Black community, no matter if it happens due to the cruelty of police officers, the COVID-19 outbreak, low life expectancies, or environmental racial and social impacts.
The effect on the overall mental health of non-white individuals due to these stressors is enormous and can leave a scar for life.
What Can Mental Health Professionals Do To Address These Obstacles?
A greater availability of therapists of color or with diverse backgrounds would certainly be helpful in the present scenario. However, the possibility for all therapists to learn how to work effectively with clients of multicultural backgrounds—considering multitudes of race, ethnicities and religious backgrounds— would greatly improve the results.
It is critical that all therapists should learn to work sensitively with diverse clients and practice unbiased treatment, which requires compassion, curiosity and deep listening. It is also important to empower spiritual beliefs and foster better relationships by involving spiritual communities and being knowledgeable of history and culture. It can be a powerful way to change perceptions of mental health treatment and strengthen their self-esteem.
In order to shift the stigmatized way of thinking about mental health, it is essential that mental health professionals encourage clients’ spiritual or religious beliefs to become part of the conversation to best support the congregation and community at large.
How To Find a Reliable Mental Health Provider
Regardless of these barriers, seeking mental health treatment continues to serve as a crucial resource for members of minority groups.
The time has come to be brave and create a space where we can come out forward and confidently, facing the truth that has for so long been attached to mental health challenges.
It is the appropriate time to enlighten people about the process of Somatic Experience therapy and EMDR and increase access to quality mental health services for those in need. Through continuous efforts to have open conversations and breaking down the stereotypes relating to any mental health therapy and why it is required, we will be building a strong path for deep community healing that is long-awaited.
There is a wide range of mental health resources available online and it gives me the utmost pleasure to let you know that as an EMDR therapist and a certified mental performance consultant, my services cater to people from different backgrounds and life focal points and is inclusive of any traumatic or negative experiences you may be currently going through.
Feel free to schedule a free 30 minute consultation call to discuss your specific needs.