World Mental Health Day was over the weekend and never has it been more important that we all talk about our mental health. We are living in troubling times, the murder of George Floyd and the backlash against the Black Lives Matters movement, Anti-Semitism, Brexit chaos, the review of the Gender Recognition Act being overturned, Climate Change and Coronavirus. All these things have highlighted the systemic privileges we live in. We have narcissistic world leaders offering us no security, leading us into austerity and, most likely, an economic and social depression. In this blog, I am going to focus on the current not the future:
Black Lives Matter
The Black, African and Minority Ethnic community are experiencing higher rates of suicide and mental health distress as a direct result of a rise in racism. I believe, this rise in discrimination, has been heightened by the media reporting on the Race Riots . The media have throughout history portrayed , often peaceful protests by Black people, as a ‘riot’, which is, in itself, racist. White folk saying, “All Lives Matter” is our peoples’ way of denying racism still exists. George Floyd being murdered, for Black people, just marks the last straw of their anger of decades of racism but hundreds of years of racism. I was as distressed by the image of Floyd, as I am of the genocide my Jewish ancestors and community faced in the Holocaust. This image was so reminiscent of the images from back then, so doubly troubling It is only through the technological advances of mass public availability of contemporaneous filming and camera work that this incident came to light. I am curious to know what incidents of racism by the police and the wider community don’t get reported or recorded properly. I stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. I acknowledge that I do not have all the answers. I cannot expect to find them only from my Black colleagues, clients, friends and families. I am prepared to acknowledge my white privileges and white power, I am prepared to learn, have challenging conversations so that I can stand side by side, as an ally and a friend.
Trans Lives Matter
I write as a non-binary person and a psychotherapist, whose private practice is filled with gender fluid, non-binary, transgender and queer folk. It is time for our rights to not be ignored and to be recognized legally. Trans and Non-Binary rights are human rights. We will not be erased. Some say I live in a bubble due to the work I do. We can all choose to live in a bubble. Even if I do live in a bubble, perhaps that provides me safety whilst I walk through a transphobic world. There is a systemic glass ceiling in the workplace and systemic and institutional barriers for Trans folk gaining the right support. In the UK, we see very few — Trans people in power, or in management or in leadership in our system. Transphobia is on the rise. The media is colluding with this, and to borrow Juno Roche’s words, ’the wizard lady’ has had a powerful tirade on her views of Trans folk. My main feeling is that she has blood on her hands. As Trans people’s poorer mental health leads to self – harming behavior’s and higher rates of suicide. I am aware and resilient enough to not go searching for the Transphobia in the media or on social media. People need to realise, the emotional impact this has on Trans Lives. I stand side by side with my community, Trans Lives Matter!
It has been wonderful to see a sense of community develop around the current pandemic. As someone with HIV, I have a good understanding of what the end of the first generation of the HIV epidemic looked like. Corona is different but it disproportionally affecting the BAME community. The sense of anxiety during lockdown from seeing those we like and love with masks on. We have had a growing sense of anxiety from all of us being socially isolated and the question of ‘who is going to get ill next?’ builds fear. We are living and breathing trauma. We need to remember to breathe, to regulate, to build and develop our resilience in these difficult times. Health anxiety following the pandemic is going to be an unfortunate reality. My hope is that the community response continues after we are truly safe from Corona. That time I believe will come.
Let us not despair. My hope is to offer space in my therapy room, or a listening ear where I can support you to speak your truth and pain, it is not enough to read a book or watch a film. I need to step outside my privilege and walk side by side to understand better. By understanding our similarities and our differences, my belief is that we will get through these difficult times stronger together. We are all responsible for our mental health and get talking about it with someone you trust. Keep safe and well in these troubling times.