As a mental health professional, I have seen an increase in people seeking counseling services during this pandemic. Articles and reports have been published stating that there is a rise in domestic violence, depression, substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and suicide in individuals. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/05/04/mental-health-coronavirus/) Many of these articles focus on how Covid-19 has impacted the mental health of adults, but what about the children, specifically black kids. Madamenoire recently published an article urging parents to pay attention to black teen girls amidst the pandemic and how kids can easily get lost in the shuffle of adult stressors (loss of employment, resources for food, etc.)(https://madamenoire.com/1162980/were-just-not-talking-about-them-enough-why-one-therapist-is-urging-parents-and-caregivers-to-pay-attention-to-black-teens-amidst-the-covid-19-pandemic/) Additionally, the CDC offers tips on behavior changes to look for and ways to support your child during Covid-19. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html)
I recently was having a conversation with a relative discussing how students have been impacted by distance learning and mandated safer at home orders. I mentioned that only time will tell what the long term effects on their mental health will be. Then she says, "Just recently I thought about how integration impacted my life. I was attending an all-black high school when we were forced to integrate the all-white high school for my 11th-grade year." That statement right there blew my mind! There is all this talk about breaking the cycle and ending the stigma surrounding mental health in the black community but did anyone ever consider how the civil rights movement affected the mental health of black men and women of all ages. Honestly, I never did. Studies examining the long-term physical and mental impacts of oppression and violence on Civil Rights era black individuals are not as widespread in the literature as one would think. (https://undark.org/2016/04/18/unstudied-scars-civil-rights-resistance/) During my undergraduate studies, I decided to write a thesis on whether or not the city that my maternal family is from was truly racially integrated after the civil rights movement. Part of my thesis meant that I had to interview older relatives and friends about their life growing up during segregation and how integration impacted them and whether or not they feel as if things are different in this town more than 40 years later. I found the interviews to be difficult. They didn't want to talk about their experience. I felt as if they were giving me the abridged version of their life whether I was recording the interview or not. Even now, my family does not feel comfortable expressing what they endured during the civil rights movement. There were so many questions I wanted to ask my relative, but it seems as if it was a statement said in passing not one meant for in-depth discussion. I wondered how the 16th street Baptist Church Bombing of 4 young African-American girls in 1963 impacted my mom and aunts who were around the same age as the girls. Just like, I wonder how the recent deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor affect the mental health of our black youth today.
Trauma is trauma no matter which way you look at it, from the Atlantic Slave Trade to the Emancipation Proclamation to the Civil Rights Movement to Black Lives Matter. The generational trauma that occurs within the Black community runs deep. Children become adults who become parents who are responsible for raising the next generation and the cycle goes on and on. Now more than ever it is important to #BreaktheCycle and #EndtheStigma of #mentalhealth in the African American, Afro Latin, and Afro Caribbean communities. The mental and emotional wholeness that we envision for our children starts with us. It begins with sharing our stories and coming to terms with our trauma and working towards our healing. (https://psychnews.psychiatryonline.org/doi/full/10.1176/appi.pn.2013.12b61)
When was the last time you had a conversation with an older relative about their life experiences? How about the last time you talked to your child or teen about the pandemic? What are some ways you can begin to disrupt the generational cycle of trauma and mental health in your family? What does healing look like in the Black Community? #Stepstowardswellness #Blackandburntout #mentalhealth #mentalhealthmatters #mentalhealthawareness #Endthestigma #BreaktheCycle #Blackmentalhealthmatters #Blackmentalhealth #Counseling #Therapy #Blackdiaspora #BlackTherapists #Madamenoire #BlackCommunity #wellness #selfcare #AhmaudArbery #BreonaTaylor #Justice #Blacklivesmatter #Trauma #Healing #kids #children #classof2020 #Civilrights #Covid19