Depression and anxiety are not weaknesses
Here is a list of things that we might keep in mind, those of us who are, ourselves, underrepresented or who care for others who are, when trying to enhance our mental health, or that of those we love. Parents especially can create – and need to be supported in creating – environments that support the following ideas or practices:
- Keep in mind that the more childhood trauma one experiences, the more at risk they are to develop lifelong emotional, physical, social and economic instability. ACES (adverse childhood experiences) and childhood trauma is experienced in minority communities at higher rates than in the population at large and can lead to symptoms of toxic stress.
- Let’s accept that people deal with stuff differently
- Do things out of love, and don’t bring them up later in a backhanded way
- Parents apologizing to their kids. Try restorative justice in your home.
- Creating safe spaces for vulnerability
- Breaking generational curses and intergenerational trauma
- Getting rid of pride
- Getting your point across without yelling
- Agreeing to disagree
- Listening to understand, not just as gateway to argue
- Don’t compare. Be there.
- Prayer plus action. Just praying it away isn’t enough
- Being open minded and not ignorant
- Facing things instead of hushing them up
- Building a wealth mindset
Also, I’ve added some other thoughts about how to create positive and healthy mental health in our family and work spaces:
- Seek therapy for your issues instead of self-medicating with casual sex or drugs, venting to your friends constantly, becoming antisocial or codependent on someone.
- There’s no shame in asking for help outside the family. Let’s remove the shame of the mental health stigma in brown and black communities.
- Sometimes our minority kids who do succeed, believe that they can’t reveal their inner anxiety or vulnerability because their parents expect so much from them, and have already made such huge sacrifices just for them to be here.
- Just because your kids move toward independence does not mean they don’t love you
- Own your own feelings
- Try to express your feelings rather than acting them out or somaticizing them
- Intermarriage is not a threat to your culture
- Silence is OK
- Even a child deserves respect
- Sometimes the child who grows up to be the over-achiever is the one who feels depressed and feels they can’t share that
- Parenting is hard and parents should get support when facing their own challenges
- Be responsive rather than reactive
- Be the link between your ancestors and future generations
- Remember that whatever messages you give your kids about themselves, they will believe
- Being emotional, having a bad attitude, being rude, sullen or full of complaints might be an indicator of depression or anxiety, not shameful behavior
- Meditation is not weird. It is helpful
- Talking about your feelings is not Soft.
- Depression or anxiety are not weaknesses
These ideas might require a mindset shift in your family, especially if you grew up hearing the opposite of a lot of these things. It’s not easy to change how we bring up our kids and shift the messages that we share. But it sure can be helpful and strengthening to our young people and to ourselves as parents, and all of our mental health, if we realize how impactful those messages are.
What messages did you grow up with that might have negatively impacted you as an adult? What have you discovered to be more helpful? I’d love to hear more from you about how your own mental health has been impacted. Please share. And take good care.
Take away is: Mental health in minority communities can be impacted early on in life.
PS: If you or someone you care about is having difficulty improving your mental health please contact me for a therapy appointment.