With the current health, political and social climate of the world today, it can be easy to emotionally isolate ourselves. We are living in a time of racial tension, social unrest and tremendous health concern, all while bearing the impact of social or physical distancing from family, friends, co-workers and activities.
We remain connected informationally, exposing us to current issues that may stir emotions we do not know how to manage — or emotions that call us to make a difference though we do not know how. Stressful moments in our own lives, or those we view through media or social media, can overwhelm us and cause us to “freeze.” This can lead to feelings of helplessness, guilt, isolation or anger. Realities of racism and inequality can detrimentally affect mental health.
According to the American Psychological Association, “Research shows that the political divides we are experiencing are due to fear and misperception of others. . . . Research also shows that the divisiveness will continue to grow if fear of ‘the other’ and the wounds fueling that fear are not addressed.”
Using every opportunity to learn more about our neighbors can bridge the gaps between us. The month of February is a concentrated time to celebrate Black History, a designated period to look at American history with acknowledgement of the past struggles, appreciation for the progress that has been made, and motivation to continue the work for a brighter future. This February, there will be many people of all races and ethnicities that have long joined the mission to fight for the equality of all people, and others for whom that journey has just begun.
It is important to remember that all of us are needed to reach the goal. Since February is also a month focused on Valentine’s Day and love, it offers a reminder of love as a healing force for all humanity. Demonstrating love is a powerful way to foster community and to combat social and emotional isolation. Together we are more able to address all of the issues we face today.
This month, let’s choose more celebration, love and unity for our own lives, and to share with others, as a way to reduce isolation, improve mental health, and promote healing for our community.
Here are some practical ways to Celebrate, Love and Unite:
1. Support a Black-owned business (purchase products or a service, eat at a local restaurant)
2. Learn Black History facts. (learn about historical inventors, civil rights heroes, and current innovators)
3. Share your support of Black History Month with friends, family or on social media
1. Show empathy (sympathy is a great start but empathy deepens the connection, “How would you feel if it where you?”)
2. Remember all Black people are not the same, be careful with assumptions and stereotypes
3. Check yourself for any embedded presumptions and prejudices. (identify, address and replace)
1. Learn ways that racism and prejudice can present for people of color (ask family, friends or colleagues, research online for articles and blogs)
2. Get involved with organizations that are fighting for equality (there are many ways to support)
3. Call out and challenge racism and prejudice in your community (especially in non-Black spaces)
Explore other ways to Celebrate, Love and Unite this month and beyond. There are many articles, blogs and videos that may inspire and move you.
Below are additional resources for Black History Facts. Reading one fact a day in the month of February can be a simple way to learn more about American history
Here is a recent fact for you to enjoy:
On January 20, 2021, Kamala Harris became the first woman of African and Asian descent to become Vice President of the United States of America.
Remember, if you are struggling with feelings of stress or isolation, or any other aspects of life that are affecting your mental health, please reach out to the Methodist Employee Assistance office at (901) 683-5658. All sessions are being conducted via telehealth due to the pandemic.
We are here to help and support. Let us walk alongside you.
Tera Brownlee, LPC-MHSP
Tera Brownlee is a Licensed Professional Counselor with a designation of Mental Health Services Provider. She received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and her Master’s degree in Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling from the University of Memphis. Tera has experience counseling children, teens, and adults in various inpatient and outpatient settings. She has a passion for walking alongside clients as they heal and helping them navigate life transitions. Tera is a native Memphian and enjoys reading, spending time with family, travel, and attending live entertainment shows.
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