We are living in tumultuous times. Most especially for our BIPOC communities. While the rest of the world wakes up to injustices that are certainly not new - the sharing of imagery, social media and conversations that address social and racial injustices may be emotionally triggering. Especially for those personally impacted by these issues or engaged in actively pushing for change, says The Indigo Project counsellor and psychotherapist Dafna Kronental.
"Whilst the social amplification of deeply entrenched institutional and structural racism may feel empowering and liberating ... the constant output of energy and emotion can also lead to exhaustion, overwhelm and at worst, traumatisation," explains Kronental.
With this in mind, here, Kronental provides some methods of self care and links to further resources for Black, Indigenous and People of Colour. As well as advice for allies.
How can those impacted by social and racial injustice or actively engaged in activism take care of their mental and emotional health during these times? What are some potentially helpful strategies for self care?
In order to process past (and continuing) injustices experienced over many generations, it is critical that BIPOC are given the space to acknowledge and express their rage after years of being silenced, dismissed and forced to move on. It is equally important, however, that on a personal level, there is a focus on creating healthy boundaries and engaging in self-care to maintain mental and emotional well being.
Throughout history, BIPOC have built and engaged in healing spaces or processes to come together and cultivate resilience. These support mechanisms are as relevant today as ever, and may include community gatherings, or creative expression such as poetry, prayer, art, dance and music, that reinforce cultural and historical identity and heritage. Self-care on an individual basis varies according to preference, but generally consists of relaxing activities such as gardening, sports, yoga, meditation, crafts, baking, dance, and religious or spiritual practice. Whilst many of us also remain home-bound under the current circumstances, curbing time spent on the internet or watching the news may also be helpful in limiting exposure to emotionally triggering content or commentary portraying the injustice towards BIPOC.
What are some useful resources Black, Indigenous and People of Colour feeling mental or emotional distress or burnout during this time?
BIPOC often have limited access to mental health services and also lack culturally relevant support and intervention programs. Some organisations that seek to change this reality and offer counselling, advice and other resources for BIPOC, include the NSW-based, Aboriginal owned organisation, Aboriginal Counselling Services; Embrace Multicultural Health, a mental health platform for people of culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds; and, Gallang Place, an Indigenous healthcare service based in Brisbane. It is important that BIPOC work with culturally suitable counsellors and services, particularly at a time when past and present racial injustices and divisions are amplified. Online directories such as Psychology Today may assist BIPOC find background-specific mental health professionals they can identify with. There are also some great psychology practices, who acknowledge the importance of cultural awareness in the therapy space – at The Indigo Project, we cater to clients of all different backgrounds.
How can the wider community be more supportive?
The wider community can support BIPOC by creating safe spaces to listen, acknowledge and express empathy for their struggle. This may include processes of self-reflection in recognising the repercussions that individual opinions, attitudes, actions or inaction may have on the lives of BIPOC. It may involve standing in solidarity with BIPOC by partaking in social and political activism, volunteer work or advocacy; and seeking out information and resources to educate ourselves and others on the histories, cultures and entrenched systems that undermine these minorities. On a personal level, it might mean contacting BIPOC friends or colleagues to offer support during difficult times, or noticing where at your workplace and other immediate environments BIPOC may be underrepresented or face challenges.