By Cory Cavazos, Executive Director of King Youngblood's nonprofit Hold Your Crown
Disclaimer: Fighting for justice can take a strain on your mental health. If you feel your mental health is beginning to suffer, please read this list of proactive ways to care for yourself. We need you to stay healthy for the long fight for justice.
We are in the midst of a movement. It's exciting, powerful, and sometimes exhausting. In this fight for justice, we must take care of our mental wellbeing and the mental wellbeing of those around us.
There is no single approach to mental wellness. Each person has unique needs. But the path to mental wellness is maintained by community support, a culture of acceptance, and accountability.
What mental health allies can do in the fight for justice
Recognize mental health privilege. Black Americans are 20% more likely to experience serious mental illness than the general population.
Be vocal about your own struggles, even if you are feeling healthy. This encourages others and creates a culture of acceptance.
If you are able, check yourself. Are there those who could use your support? Could you step out of the background and relieve someone fighting everyday in the frontline? Give them the space to rest and care for themselves.
Check in on your community. Ask them in a private, safe, and non-judgmental environment how they are doing, preferably over video or the phone. Be sensitive. Ask questions. Be proactive in caring for mental health, not just reactive.
Would you be willing to check-in with me about mental health?
Is it okay for me to ask some personal questions about self-care?
If they feel comfortable, here are some questions to consider asking:
How much sleep have you been getting?
How often are you eating and what have you been able to eat?
Have you been able to shop for food?
Have you gotten a chance to walk outside away from protests, marches, or rallies?
If they take medication, be especially sensitive about this one, have you been able to regularly take your meds?
Have you been able to take breaks?
If you are trying to support someone's mental health, give them space to rest. Work together to brainstorm actions and plans that will support their mental health.
Provide a list of resources and research how to find professional help. If they need it, narrow the options so it is easy to decide on a course of action and offer to help them fill out forms and make sure it will be covered by insurance or other funds.
The fight for justice cannot be done alone. We each need support to be able to help others. Take care of yourself. Take care of your community. We are in this together.
Join King Youngblood's Hold Your Crown mission to change the culture on youth mental illness and the path to mental wellness. Visit holdyourcrown.org today.