I come from a family of many cultures, languages, religions, and places. As a Chinese American and Ashkenazi Jew with Cherokee and Choctaw roots, I have descended from a lineage of survivors. My grandparents crossed oceans and deserts, climbed over fences and walls, all in pursuit of a better life for their families. They have told me stories about horrific times of war and violence, their struggles to survive amidst oppression, their efforts to create peace when there was none to be found.
However, we rarely speak about emotions, we seldom give hugs and kisses, we rarely say, “I love you.” We show our love through home cooked meals and faded photographs because this is the only way that my family has ever known.
I’m not sure if this is cultural, or if it is a result of my grandparents’ past traumas, but we do not discuss feelings or mental health.
Muslims are often in the news, usually as either perpetrators or victims of terrorism or as part of political discussions on immigration. The media often portrays Muslims as a racialized, monolithic “other,” though American Muslims are one of the most racially diverse religious groups in the U.S.
Unfortunately, skewed media portrayal, as well as the current political climate, can have an adverse psychological impact on American Muslims.
I recently attended a presentation at my local mosque about plans to help familiarize Muslims with mental health resources. It’s an important first step to help tackle internalized stigma against mental health issues and increase the quality of life for American Muslims.
We’re so excited to introduce our blog readers to our newest national staff member: Hayley Harnicher, coordinator of the Active Minds Speakers Bureau! You might remember Hayley as a road staffer from last spring’s Send Silence Packing tour. She was also a chapter leader and the University of Rochester, served on the national Student Advisory Committee and interned in the national office a few summers ago. Basically, she’s been with Active Minds for forever and we’re so excited to officially have her on the team!
Read on to learn more about Hayley and her new role with the Speakers Bureau:
So, Hayley. Tell us a little about yourself.
Well, where should I start.One thing to know about me, is that I never quite know how to answer the question, “Where are you from?” because I can answer that question in quite a few ways. Having lived in Salt Lake City, UT and Houston, TX before going to Rochester, NY for college, I can’t wait to see what’s next for me here in DC. I am a triplet, with my brother and sister being my only siblings; we were more than enough for my parents! Because of all the places I’ve lived, I have developed a deep love of travel–both to visit the old, but also to explore the new.
My love for travel was recently combined with Active Minds when I embarked on one of my dream jobs as a Spring 2016 Send Silence Packing road staffer and got the opportunity to explore so many places I had never been before. (You should apply to be Fall 2016 Send Silence Packing Contract Staff here! Shameless plug, I know).
You did it! Over the 2015-2016 school year, Active Minds chapters raised more than $94,000 (surpassing the national goal by $14,000!) to help bring Active Minds to a growing number of schools, support Active Minds’ expansive programming, and ensure the future and success of our mission. In fact, we opened 72 more chapters this past year, thanks to your help!
Historically Black Colleges/Universities have and hopefully will continue to be a pinnacle in the black community. These sources of education and black empowerment across the United States have done so much for the growth and betterment of African-Americans nationwide. However, there is always room for growth; and one of those areas that are in need of growth is the elimination of stigma associated with mental illness.
It is no secret that addressing mental health in the black community, not just on our school campuses, but in the homes of black people around the world, has been a battle we’ve been fighting for years.
Why is that we put so much shame on the term “mental illness”? Why is it that we associate weakness with someone seeking professional help for something so serious and so real? Why is it that black males from ages 20 to 24 have the highest rates of suicide in the black population, yet we look down on our brother when he’s brave enough to ask for help?
Twelve years ago, Iris Chang, the Chinese American writer of The Rape of Nanking, took her life. Her death stunned not only the Chinese community but the Asian American community as a whole. Iris’ death became an alert: Asian Americans are not immune to mental health struggles.
As the “model minority” with the highest income and lowest crime rate among all racial groups in the U.S., Asian Americans’ mental health concerns are disguised by numbers. However, we are far from achieving a balanced mental and psychological wellbeing.
A myth about mental health concerns in the Chinese community is the belief that it’s an individual’s problem. When something goes wrong, we tend to blame ourselves for having these problems. Depression, anxiety, and other struggles are indicators of personal failures, rather than signs for the need to take care of ourselves.
School’s out for the summer. No more finals, presentations, or papers. After long sleepless nights, it’s time to renew your mind, body, and soul! Take advantage of the time and treat yo’ self.
1. Take a vacation or staycation.
Whether you’re going somewhere new or just staying at home, take a few days to unplug and recharge. Set up an auto-responder on your email, turn off SnapChat and spend some time outdoors. Whether you’re on the beach or catching some Pokemon in your city, taking a few days to yourself can do wonders for your mental health.
By Candace Daniels and Maggie Bertram
Alton Sterling and Philando Castile died at the hands of police last week. It’s been reported that at least one of them was legally carrying a gun at the time he was shot. They were stopped for relatively minor infractions. They were doing things that I (Maggie) see White folks doing all the time. The only difference? Alton and Philando were Black.
We can argue all day long about whether you can support #BlackLivesMatter and law enforcement officers at the same time. We can argue about the slew of myths that rise to the top in the wake of these incidents. There’s one thing we can’t argue, though. Two more Black men died at the hands of police officers last week, and five Dallas police officers died defending the right to protest against the circumstances of those deaths.
These events result in trauma. Trauma for the loved ones of these men; trauma for Diamond Reynolds and her daughter, who were in the car with Castile at the time he was shot. Trauma for the communities of Minneapolis-St. Paul, Baton Rouge, and Dallas. Trauma for Black folks everywhere as they add two more names to a long list that demonstrates they aren’t full citizens. They don’t have access to rights like personal gun ownership, privacy, or due process. Trauma for people who watch and otherwise feel affected, frustrated, troubled, helpless, or any other host of emotions.
There’s something we don’t talk about enough here at Active Minds, and that’s cultural trauma.