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Black people have been through so much over the last few weeks, lifetimes and over generations. With racial injustice and violence being an ever present part of our everyday lives, we are bound to feel the effects of it in our bodies, spirits and minds. As a clinical social worker, I see firsthand how racial injustice shows up in ways that impact our mental well-being.

In the midst of the height of protests and uprisings, many of my clients were coming into the office reporting the same distress and symptoms. Difficulty sleeping, anxiousness and worry, feelings of rage and depression from directly witnessing or experiencing racial injustice. Many clinicians would call these symptoms and distress post-traumatic stress disorder, when in actuality it is racial traumatic stress. Over the past few weeks, more experts and people in the mainstream media are acknowledging the mental health impact of being Black in America and witnessing racial violence, over and over again.

When people think about fighting for Black liberation, we think of the direct action — the marches, demonstrations and uprisings. But what people don’t prepare you for is the after effect of it all — the racial trauma that stays with you for long periods of time. The dialectical happens where people must choose to show up or stay out because of the impact of the trauma in their lives.

What I do as a clinical social worker is help the people I serve, mostly young Black women acknowledge, process and make space for their experiences unapologetically. I help to usher in the healing that must happen for us to be whole, well and to rise even in the face of racial injustice.

By being a part of the healing process for our community during these difficult times, I’ve come up with three ways you can begin to heal from racial trauma: