George Floyd Protests: How to Stay Mentally Healthy in Crisis

As protests over the death of George Floyd spread through the country, mental health is taking a collective dip. We are already in the midst of a pandemic that has physically isolated us for months, and now, another horrific incident of police brutality against a black man has pushed US citizens over the edge.

Protests have erupted across the nation, but the peaceful protestors are harder to hear over the sound of democrats and republicans exploiting the inevitable riots to make political points. Social media posts between friends and Zoom chats with family are getting contentious. These discussions are not easy to have, and these times are not easy to live through, especially if you are a person of color – and especially if you have mental illness.

If your mind is already in a fragile state, processing everything that’s happening right now could exacerbate your symptoms. But of course, there is no avoiding the reality of the world we live in. How can we move forward without damaging our mental health? How can we nurture our individual minds and souls while still contributing to the cause in a meaningful way?

These are a few tips for how people with mental health disorders can process this moment in history without losing their sanity, their self worth or their community.

Listen and Learn

Feeling overwhelmed because you just don’t know what to do, how to help or what it all means? Pause. Breathe. Just start by listening. You can move forward into action with more confidence if you listen first.

You’re not going to learn everything at once, either – but remember, no one expects you to be perfect. Lending a hand and being willing to learn from the communities who are suffering the most is the first step. You will learn more and more as the cause evolves throughout your life, so don’t worry about having all the answers figured out just yet.

Look for established resources that offer information you can count on. Need some ideas?

These are some good places to start. Through these sites you can learn, donate to the cause, and find helpful resources to share:

People of color who seek therapy, community support and mental wellness resources can begin here:

Stay Informed in a Healthy Way

If social media did not exist, we would not seek out spaces in which we could hear all of our friends and family yell their opinions to us at once — all while standing in the same room. And all using megaphones.

I mean, is that not what a Facebook timeline or an Instagram news feed essentially is? Celebrities are not educators, and neither are large corporations whose advertising is already beginning to attempt to capitalize on the moment. And no matter how much you try to avoid these types of posts, they’ll inevitably sneak in there.

Everyone uses social media differently – some people really do like to express themselves through wall posts and photos and stories. Folks who are like this often gain some catharsis from going online to talk about things. In fact, many leaders have even recently called for protestors to stay on social media so as not to miss updates nor turn a blind eye to the problem.

But that’s not healthy for everyone, so pay attention to your feelings. If reading through a heated debate on your timeline and absorbing about 17 different opinions within the span of a four-minute scroll sends you into a spiral, then you need to log off for a while. And if missing out on important updates makes you anxious, then by all means, go online – but limit yourself. Pick and choose who you follow carefully, and give yourself a time restriction so that you don’t scroll endlessly.

Read articles from various news sources and journalists so that you can form your own opinion before trying to process everyone else’s. Read books instead of screens. And stay out of the comment section!

Catie Housman

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