HOUSTON - If the trauma of racial injustice, police brutality, recent questionable police shootings and anti-Asian attacks are weighing heavily on you, you are not alone.
"The biggest emotion I’m experiencing is just the heartache every time I have to see George begging and pleading for his life," explains George Floyd’s cousin Tera Brown.
While the pain is certainly greater for Floyd’s family, many are experiencing similar heartbreak that just won’t go away.
"That is very significant and now we know racial trauma can cause things similar to PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)," explains Baylor College of Medicine Psychiatrist Dr. Asim Shah who says, yes, you can be mentally effected by tragic events happening in society.
"The biggest problem we have with systemic racism is that if it continues for months, for years, and in some cases it continues for decades, it can cause a long-lasting trauma. People may feel diminished self-esteem, hopelessness, fatigue, can’t focus, can’t concentrate," Shah explains.
"I just think that even though the verdict was right, I feel I’m pessimist about the future and the future for my sons," adds Houston resident Ervin Johnson.
Shah says Blacks may have added trauma regarding racial injustice because of the fear many feel daily regarding potential police encounters.
"I saw my sons under that man’s knee, my uncle, my brother," explains Houston City Councilwoman Letitia Plummer.
"This hits home for me. My father could have been George Floyd. My brother could have been George Floyd," says Houston teenager Alexis Cheatum.
"As a Black woman, who’s married to a Black man, and I have grown Black men as children, it’s been a very difficult few weeks, it’s been a difficult many years, really," explains Meredith Duncan, Law Professor and Houston Mom.
Shah says healing begins with awareness and validation, which has happened in a big way over the last few months with people from all walks of life uniting.
"Validation means that you need to believe these things are real. The worst thing one can do is minimize them and so oh it’s ok. It’s not ok," says Shah.
If you’re feeling mental stress, Shah suggests getting a support system and even engaging in activism, even if that means just in your community.
"If we stand up to these injustices, the world would be a better place and we wouldn’t have them."
Dr. Shah adds for those feeling guilt, he says rather than doing that, learn about cultural sensitivity, treat everyone equally, and importantly teach your children to do the same. Also, he's encouraging you to have an age appropriate discussion with your kids about what’s going on.