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Coping With Racism And Its Impact On Mental Health

By Brandi Bellamy, AMFT, PPS

We don’t always think about how race can affect our mental health , but the fact is people of color carry the weight of other people’s ideas about who or what we should be. This might affect mental health in the following ways: 

  • Feelings of loneliness
  • Uncertainty
  • Decreased hope in the future, justice, the government, etc.
  • Decreased trust in others
  • Worry
  • Increase in depression or anxiety
  • Panic
  • Grief
  • Feelings of powerlessness 

You may feel all of these, some of these, or something else. These may be your own feelings or these may be reflections of feelings that are surrounding you. All feelings are normal and valid.

But what do you do with them?

  1. Communicate. You have feelings and emotions that need to be expressed. Share them with someone you can trust. This may include a therapist. If you don’t have one, use the AllyNetwork to find a therapist near you. Think about other people you could talk openly with like a family member, teacher, religious leader, friend of the family, or another trusted adult in your community. 
  2. Self-care. If you are not well yourself, you cannot help anyone else. Take care of your basic needs: eat, drink water, and sleep. Connect with your community of friends, family, and other loved ones. Allow yourself to feel whatever you feel. This can be very uncomfortable, but it is a step towards healing. Try meditations or affirmations (see resources for ideas). Do whatever calms your soul.
  3. Activism . Another way to cope is to do something to make a change. When people hear the word activism they think this means attending a protest, but there are many ways that you can help. You can donate money, time, or ideas to groups doing good work. If you are feeling well enough you can support others by listening to their experiences. If all of that is too much, remind yourself to take care and that surviving is its own form of activism.
     

Resources:

Black Mental Wellness

Young Black Men Project 

Therapy for Black Girls

Liberate Meditation for BIPOC 

The National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association

Asian Mental Health Collective