Racial Trauma in the News

How to stay informed and protect your mental health

Technology advances have allowed society to stay in touch and be informed of other’s doing in an instant. This has been a great thing especially during COVID when we were all in quarantine, but it has also led to being informed to traumatic news daily. With the use of social media and smart phones while scrolling through your news feed, all at once you can see images of war, police brutality and killings of black/brown individuals.

We are often bombarded with imagery and messages throughout the day. Secondhand trauma can occur due to watching or hearing traumatic stories. It’s trauma that happens due to an indirect traumatic experience.

Physical responses of secondhand trauma

  • Hopelessness
  • Hypervigilance
  • Chronic exhaustion
  • Dissociative moments
  • Guilt
  • Numbing feeling, inability to empathize

Many people wonder, “How can I stay informed but also be mindful of my mental health?”

I’ve created a simple and quick acronym to offer some tips on how to manage your mental health in the presence of frequent trauma using the acronym, “Take a B.R.E.A.K.”.

How to take a B.R.E.A.K.

  • (B) Be present with your emotions.
  • (R) Recharge, take a rest from TV and the internet. Set aside time to move your body in joyful ways.
  • (E) Escape by being present with loved ones and your community.
  • (A) Ally-ship is important. Find ways to empathize and connect with a cause close to your heart.
  • (K) Kneel into your spiritual path. Tools such as prayer, meditation or light and love can serve as a resource for healing and comfort during trauma.

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Research shows that when we’re exposed to negatively skewed news programs we’re more likely to experience negative feelings like anxiety, anger, sadness and fear. More surprisingly, researchers found these feelings can transfer over to our personal concerns, so we’re likely to be more pessimistic about our own lives and prospects for the future. Learn how you can address this negativity bias and be a better consumer of news content.

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