As you know the last year has brought multiple challenges impacting our physical and emotional health. Although present and felt by many people of color, this past year forced all of us to acknowledge the ugly head of racial discrimination and divide. Many of us have gone from experiencing hurt and emotional pain of watching the breath leave George Floyd almost a year ago to releasing a momentary sigh of relief in the conviction of the police officer responsible for Mr. Floyd's death. I watched each historic event with my now 14-year-old son who sadly proclaimed he was still hopeless about his future as a Black male. His gut-wrenching words left me speechless and dismayed. How can someone so young be discouraged about his future? How can I, as a mother, instill hope and, in the same breath, caution my son to present himself in such a way so as to not appear threatening to someone in authority and/or who does not look like him?
Unfortunately, the conversations I have with my son are similar to the ones my father had with me as a young child. In what generation will this particular dialogue between a parent and child of color change? When will we as people in the human race change? Like other parents, I want my son to be the very best that he can be and that he have a long life and one full of wonderful possibilities. Is this too much to ask for? As I contemplate the many questions about my son's future, I return to the present to see what can be done now. Although I cannot be with my son every step of his life journey, I can make a difference in instilling hope and unconditional and continuous love and support.
When life brings unbearable heartache, despair, and undeniable frustration, it is important to acknowledge it, take the time to grieve, when needed, and to courageously pick ourselves up (even when we do not want to). During the difficult times, it is also important to accept when we need help - whether it's talking to a trusted family member, friend or mental health professional. Our mental health is not a luxury; it is a necessity! Just as we are in the habit of taking our car in for a tune-up or other needed maintenance, we must do the same for our mental health and for those we love and care for.
May this special month of Mental Health Awareness be the time for you to reflect on your life and on the ones that you love and support. If needed, please seek out what you need in order to increase wellness and to instill hope now and for the future.