Therapist offers mental health advice during unrest

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — There have been some traumatic images from across the country lately related to riots, and in some cases police brutality.

Although many protests have been peaceful, some took a dark turn and became riots. Experts say this can take a toll on your mental health, especially those in the black community.

Dr. Valencia Agnew with Adolescent and Family Behavioral Health Services in Grand Rapids says if it’s taking a toll on your mental health, it’s OK to turn away.

“If you know you’re someone that’s sensitive to that, it’s not helpful for you to keep watching the same images over and over and over,” said Agnew.

This trauma is taking place on top of being in the middle of a global pandemic.

“You throw in racial tensions, that’s just trauma on top of trauma, it’s compound trauma,” said Agnew.

Agnew says with going to therapy often having a negative stigma in the black community, it’s OK to seek professional help. 

“Being patient with yourself and giving yourself permission to feel whatever it is you feel 3 that it’s not right, it’s not wrong, there’s not a manual for it,” said Agnew.

Agnew says there are ways to self-care.

“It might mean going to volunteer at someone’s office to help do some things. It might be like when people met downtown and helped with the cleanup,” said Agnew.

She believes the solution to staying mentally healthy begins with you.

“The more self-aware you are, the more you know what you can handle and what can’t handle,” said Agnew.

The phone number for the National Suicide Prevention hotline is 1.800.273.8255. More mental health resources and advice for the black community can be found online.