The recent acts of police brutality in Memphis are sure to rightfully bring outrage and devastation to each of us, our communities, and across the nation.

Tyre Nichols passed away tragically in the hospital after a fatal encounter with five officers, who are now charged with murder. Police body camera footage of the brutality toward Nichols is said to be released this evening by Memphis officials.

As we have seen done in the past, the footage is sure to be shared far and wide by news stations and other media, as well as on social media platforms. This puts everyone, especially Black people, at risk for experiencing vicarious traumatization or “vicarious trauma”.

Vicarious trauma is a concept that involved the vulnerability of the human brain to be negatively impacted by traumatic events even if we haven’t personally experienced them. This concept gives us the understanding that witnessing traumatic events or even just having knowledge of the events can have negative consequences on our mental health. It is the official recommendation of MHC to join with Nichols’ mother in her plea to avoid sharing the video with others, especially children. Nichols’ mom said that she hasn’t seen the video but heard it’s, “very, very horrific.”

If you find yourself anxious, sad, angry, depressed, or any combination of emotions after reacting to recent news, first know that all of these feelings are valid. Then, consider these tips from MHA.

  • Disconnect:Turn off the TV, close the Twitter app, and disconnect if you find yourself glued to the screen. Get physically active to refocus your brain, go for a walk outside, practice yoga or do something with your hands such as knitting, coloring or writing.
  • Refocus:Try meditating, yoga, or deep breathing to calm down both your body and mind. This can help shift your thinking and reduce scary thoughts about the future (anxiety).
  • Talk to another person:Connect with people if you feel alone or isolated. Call or meet up with family, friends, or even coworkers. Find tips on making connections.

Taking steps to proactively care for your mind, body, and spiritual self can serve as a protective measure and an act of resistance against racialized traumatic stressors.

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