When we as a community have discussions about Black History Month, our focus usually turns toward celebrating the many strides we have made as a people and celebrating our richly unique heritage. While it is certainly crucial to memorialize and make space for Black joy, it is equally important for us to have much-needed discussions about healing ourselves on an internal and spiritual level. Whether you’re a Black individual seeking out culturally sensitive mental health advice, or simply want to better understand and support a Black person in your life, come explore our five tips for maintaining Black mental wellness below.
- Take breaks from the news.
Although staying informed about current events is a necessary part of engaging with – and fighting for – social issues, constantly engaging with the news can be detrimental to your mental health. Sometimes, taking a break from the news can mean temporarily away from TikTok, Twitter, and other sites that can have triggering videos that show or talk about anti-black violence. Doing this doesn’t make you selfish or uncaring. It just means that you’re setting healthy boundaries for yourself.
- Reframe self-preservation as activism.
When we imagine activism, the first thoughts that come to mind might be crowds of people in the streets chanting slogans and holding picket signs. Rarely do we include caring for our bodies and minds in conversations surrounding activism. In a world that so often devalues the lives of Black people, purposefully and proudly making sacred spaces to tend to our pain is an act of defiance in an anti-black society. Doing this can be as simple as checking in with yourself, a friend, or a family member and asking, “How are you really feeling today? Let’s talk about it.”
- Acknowledge without engaging.
In the moment, it might be perfectly rational to formulate a response video or comment to a racist online. But in the end, trying to have a rational conversation about the ills of anti-black racism with a stranger who is disinterested in changing their bigoted thoughts and behaviors ultimately creates more stress for a Black individual. While there are certainly times when standing up against such bigotry is crucial, there are also instances when doing so only results in emotional exhaustion and further frustration on your end. Preserve your energy. It’s better spent on those in your social circle who love and care for you instead.
- Educate others on your
Speaking from experience to paint a picture of the personal struggles that countless Black people have faced can be an effective and poignant strategy for antiracist education. Unfortunately, it can also come at the price of retraumatization and, in some cases, thankless emotional labor. If you choose to disclose a racist experience that you have endured, make sure that you do it out of your own volition, and in a space where you are unquestionably safe and supported. Even if somebody you trust has questions about a particular racist incident, it is perfectly within reason to recognize that it happened but add that you would rather not revisit it. After all, choosing to educate isn’t a duty – it’s a gift.
- Connect with a therapist.
Sometimes, venting to the people in our lives who know us best can be a safe, temporary reprieve from our daily stressors. Other times, though, it might be more appropriate and necessary to seek help from a trained mental health professional. Searching for the right therapist isn’t easy – especially when you’re Black. Thankfully, there are resources that can help you connect with therapists who also belong to the Black community. There’s no shame in seeking therapy. Check out the resource list below to get a head start on discussing your mental health journey with a therapist today!