For many Americans, the unrest, anxiety and emotion of the last week are not solely about the George Floyd case. It is the result of a much deeper pain, stemming from the impacts of systematic racism.
In times of crisis and mental anguish, sometimes just listening can help people manage those painful emotions. Connecticut-based mental health experts have weighed in on why the video of George Floyd’s in-custody death was the breaking point for so many people.
“That video triggers the exact feelings, the anxieties, the fears that folks in the black community have always had,” said Nicole Wilson-Faniel, a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) at T.R.U.E Self Counseling, LLC in Manchester.
“Definitely, definitely take care of yourself,” said Wilson-Faniel. “There’s so much out there. There’s a lot of videos and footages. Just please, if you can’t tolerate it, do not click on it.”
“What can I do? What is it that I can do?” she asked if people want to begin inspiring change. “The response really is, we all have things that we can participate in, whatever’s comfortable for you.”
“It’s a lot to unpack, so I encourage parents to really have this ongoing conversation with their children. So, really just be honest with your kids and open. Nobody has all the answers, so it’s OK to say ‘I don’t know’,” said Malyna Kettavong, LCSW at Kettavong Counseling in Norwich.
“When we talk about resiliency, the most important factor is a healthy relationship with one strong adult, so anyone can be that adult for that kid,” said Kettavong.
“I am an Asian-American so I have my own experiences with racism and thoughts about what’s going on so I definitely seek out those who support me a who will listen,” Kettavong said. “Racism is a harsh reality that many people have to deal with but on the other side of that, there are people working for change and that gives me hope.”
“We don’t like to talk about race but, number one, we need to talk about race,” said Hope Taylor, a licensed professional counselor (LPC) at Park City Wellness Center in Bridgeport. “Now it’s where a lot of white people have the same trauma,” she said.
“We have to explore the emotions that we felt when we saw that police officer kneeling on this man’s neck,” Taylor said. “Something about that made some people take off those blinders and they looked at that and said ‘how could someone treat someone like that.’”
“We also see that there’s people on our side. It’s not just us against the world,” said Taylor. “We have to do things that are going to make a difference.”
These mental health experts emphasized the importance of not consuming too much news and social media. They advise people to validate the concerns and fears of others – including strangers.