• The Atlas Organization

The Effects of Current Events on the Mental Health of BIPOC by Iris Chiu

July is BIPOC Mental Health month, a time where the mental issues and struggles of underrepresented ethnic groups are illuminated and amplified. In this article, I interview three BIPOC on their perspective on mental health both personally and socially.

Questions:

  1. As a BIPOC, do you think that today’s current events have had an impact on your mental health as of late? To what extent and in what specific ways?

  2. Despite the fact that July is BIPOC Mental Health month, do you think there is enough awareness being brought to BIPOC mental health? If you said yes, in what ways have you observed awareness being raised? If you said no, is there a specific reason why you don’t think so (for example, mainstream media attention to bigger issues such as COVID, the BLM movement, etc, general social disregard for mental health, etc.)?

  3. What current event would you say has had the biggest effect on your personal mental health (COVID-19, BLM movement, etc)? Why?

  4. What do you think needs to happen socially for your mental health to improve? What do you think needs to happen personally?


Emmaly, Orange County

1) Today's current events have definitely made an impact on my mental health. With COVID, it stresses me out that there are so many people that are vulnerable to the virus, but people still don’t follow simple guidelines to prevent it. The racism that came with the COVID situation disgusted me and made me angry. It made me feel that I was looked at and had my value determined because of my facial features. With the BLM movement, there were many protests that I wanted to be a part of, but I wasn't able to. I know that signing petitions and sharing information can and has helped raise more awareness, but there is just so much more to be done. I've started to have a mental burnout and numbness when I see more information about the black community not getting the justice they deserve. I feel overwhelmed and lost because I'm so emotionally exhausted.

2) Although mental health has become a more prevalent issue in general, I don't think there is enough awareness of BIPOC mental health (honestly, it's not so much that there's not enough awareness, but more we aren't in a place where mental health is constantly held at the same importance as physical health). In terms of the BLM movement, BIPOC mental health is definitely a rising topic, especially among the younger generation. I've seen many creators across various social media platforms put out posts or videos addressing common mental health issues in their communities/bringing light to how the current events may be affecting you, even if you don't notice.

3) I'm a very empathetic person, so when I'm seeing videos of unarmed BLM protestors getting shot at, or seeing another BIPOC begging for the violence to stop, I put myself in their shoes. I watch the video over and over again to make sure I understand every emotion they are feeling and every word they are saying. I try my best to understand what they are going through, because no one deserves to feel such an immense amount of pain alone. As I keep seeing these videos, I start to have this emotional buildup and fatigue.

4) People need to understand that you cannot place a value on someone based on what they look like. There are so many BIPOC who have poor mental health because of how they are treated, based on things they can't control, such as facial features and skin color. I think people need to put in more effort when it comes to learning and understanding the things BIPOC go through. We need more people to take a minute and listen, instead of making assumptions immediately.



Chris, Los Angeles

1) It’s made me more cautious about my surroundings and whenever I’m driving around. Recently there was a KKK recruitment ad that was going around and in order for people to be inducted into the clan they had to kill a black male. So I was a little nervous to be out by myself.

2) It’s a little bit of both. I don’t really see the media paying attention to the awareness because of everything surrounding covid. Some people in the black community don’t even believe in mental illness or excuse it for something else. I.e. being ungrateful or being over dramatic. For the ones who have experienced first hand it’s really important for them to spread the awareness. I’ve seen numerous social media post from celebs and peers who’ve been advocating for people to focus on what’s going on in bipoc communities.

3) BLM 100% because we’ve been fighting for equality and equal representation for the longest. People always want to victim shame the black community and blame them for their problems and financial situations without even recognizing their own privilege or taking the time to understand the history of what happened to this group of people besides slavery.

4) I just have to keep focusing on myself. Stay off of social media when not necessary and ignore ignorant ass comments from people I know. It takes little to respond and make rebuttals but it takes a lot to step away from the situation and leave them in ignorance.


Hunter, Manhattan Beach

1) It’s definitely been extremely tiring feeling like I have to constantly educate other people, especially my family. I’ve been getting really stressed because It’s all so exhausting and I even lost track of my good habits.

2) I think there are many different aspects to mental health that aren’t taken seriously or even accounted for. I didn’t even know BIPOC Mental Health month was a thing and that’s because it doesn’t get a lot of attention. This could be for many reasons, but I think now it’s becoming more prominent because of the movement going on right now.

3) I would say COVID-19 because it’s hard being cooped up at home and not having an outlet to share how I am feeling with everything going on in the world right now.

4) I think that socially we need to break down the barriers that everyone has to fit every time they enter a social environment (with friends, or anyone, physically or virtually on Instagram, Snapchat, etc.). It’s stressful to feel confined 24/7 in order to fit in with other people. We need to create spaces where everyone is free to get outside of these barriers and be who they truly are. If we want our mental health to improve, we need to show compassion to one another and accept and allow each other to express ourselves the way we want to.


As shown in these answers, BIPOC mental health still needs more awareness, with recent events particularly affecting BIPOC’s mental health. With so many difficult issues being acknowledged and discussed more and more, mental health should be kept in mind as well. Understand that it is important to prioritize your mental health, even if it is sometimes difficult to do so in today’s circumstances.