Recent acts of hatred and intolerance have shaken our campus and have caused harm to our individual and community well-being echoing the racial unrest in the country and around the world. Flyers filled with hate and mocking of a new institutional student pronoun practice aimed at promoting inclusivity for trans and gender-nonconforming students have been harmful to our campus community. We also acknowledge that these are not the only events that have caused turmoil and social unrest on our campus and that many folks on campus have experienced microaggressions or acts of discrimination that have impacted their ability to feel that they are part of a safe, inclusive campus community.
As members of the University of Michigan community who are focused on student mental health, we at CAPS share in the collective feelings of anger, hurt, fear, sadness, and frustration which have arisen in response to recent events. As mental health providers, we also acknowledge that there is no one “correct” way to feel or react to events such as these. Indeed, it is possible (and likely) that many students, faculty, and staff on campus may feel a combination of ways at the same time or may be unsure of how these recent acts have impacted them personally.
As CAPS has in the past, we hope that you will take the time to care for yourself and reach out for support as needed. Some effective ways to cope and deal with your feelings may include:
In times of distress, it is important to be mindful of the community you create around yourself. It can be useful to connect yourself to others, paying particular attention to your social identity groups (i.e., sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, and gender) and consider talking over your concerns with others in the safe, comfortable environment. It can also be helpful to spend time with friends, family, colleagues, or social groups who may be able to listen to you, and/or incorporate your spiritual and religious faiths.
Limiting Social Media Exposure
At times the news can be overwhelming and it can be healthy to limit your exposure to the news and excessive social media. Please be aware of how information impacts you and how much is right for you.
A recent article from “Race Matters” entitled When black death goes viral, it can trigger PTSD-like trauma examined the negative mental health effects of exposure to violent and racist images and messages (Downs, 2016). The author interviewed Monica Williams, a clinical psychologist, and director of the Center for Mental Health Disparities at the University of Louisville, and concluded that “graphic videos” combined with lived experiences of racism can create severe psychological problems reminiscent of post-traumatic stress syndrome.
Reaching out for help
We understand that people can feel overwhelmed and struggle with the ability to balance their emotions and the demands of being a student. We also recognize the difficulty in asking for help, but please know that CAPS is a resource available to students.
If you are on campus, you can reach out to CAPS (734-764-8312) by scheduling an appointment, utilizing our counselor-on-duty service, or calling CAPS After Hours. If you are away from Ann Arbor, you can also use the CAPS After Hours line.