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Experts: Videos in deaths of Floyd, Arbery take psychological toll on black community

Posted at 2:52 PM, May 29, 2020

Experts say disturbing videos surrounding the recent deaths of two men will take a psychological toll on many in the black community.

The images of the moments leading up to the deaths of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery have spread widely.

A psychology professor we spoke to says seeing those videos is comparable in a lot of ways to trauma.

“What concerns me most about it is people don't realize the impact of that and being exposed to it,” said Dr. Rheeda Walker, a professor of psychology at the University of Houston and the author of the recently released book, “The Unapologetic Guide to Black Mental Health.”

Echoing these concerns, Rwenshaun Miller says the distribution of these videos is piling on during an already stressful time. Miller is the founder of a nonprofit aimed at increasing awareness for black mental health, called Eustress, Inc.

“Especially during the time of a pandemic, you would think that you know one of the main concerns would be us addressing the issues when it comes to the virus, but now we also still have to deal with the weight of being black in America,” said Miller.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness notes that African Americans are 10% more likely to be impacted by psychological stress. However, only about 30% of black Americans with a mental illness will get treatment each year.

Both Miller and Walker suggest writing as a form of coping. Miller says it's good to have someone you can trust to talk it out with. Walker even takes it a step further, saying you could join or contribute to advocacy groups to channel your emotions into positive efforts toward change. Both strongly suggest taking breaks from social media or the news.

“Watch what you consume. It's one thing for us to be aware of what's going on, but then it's another thing to be obsessed with it,” said Miller.

“We want to be informed, that's important. We want to know what's going on, but maybe take it in smaller doses or maybe turning things on later in the day rather than starting the day with this exposure,” said Walker.

Walker says it's important to pay attention to your feelings. Don't just ignore them. And even if you're a bit overwhelmed, it's okay to step back.