It is with great sadness that we reflect on the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota, and on the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, and countless others. As the president of the American Psychological Association stated, “We are living in a racism pandemic, which is taking a heavy psychological toll on our African American citizens. The health consequences are dire.” The Center for Anxiety and Behavioral Change denounces racism and oppression in all of their forms. We believe that to remain silent is not an option we, as a society, can afford. As Rev. Dr. King said, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Our country has a deep history of systemic oppression, from the slave trade, to Jim Crow laws, to Japanese internment camps, to the Chinese Exclusion Act, to family separation at the border, to the forced removal and genocide of Native Americans. At times the laws and policies that uphold these inequalities are so woven into the fabric of society that they can be easy to overlook. Just because we are not all victimized by them, it does not mean that we do not bear a responsibility to call them out and help dismantle them. We must reckon with our past in order to facilitate change. We acknowledge and recognize that this is a complex issue and that there are differing opinions about both the cause and the solutions for addressing racism. However, as psychologists, who have taken ethical oaths to serve the public, we believe that a starting point is recognizing our shared humanity and the importance of affirming the equal value and dignity of each person.
Racial trauma, social inequity, and systemic oppression, amplified by the constant cycles of distressing news, have deep implications for mental health. Depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder have been linked to direct or indirect experiences of oppression. Imparting change takes energy, and promoting mental health is an integral part of facilitating social change and building resilience. We encourage our clients and members of our community to take time to reflect on your current mental health needs. Please take care of yourselves, reach out for additional mental health supports when necessary, and seek out support from your family, community, and neighbors.
The Center for Anxiety and Behavioral Change