How to Help Black Lives Matter (and Other Causes) While Dealing with Mental Health Issues
To say we live in scary times is an accurate description of today. Even if we put aside the most pressing issues that the Black Lives Matter movement has brought front and center to the national consciousness, there’s still wars abroad that the USA is involved in (most notably in the Middle East), fascist demagogues making power plays for the White House, environmental degradation, and probably some other global problems I’m forgetting. It’s hard enough to fight the good fight for these issues even when one is completely mentally sound and competent – just imagine though what it’s like when you want to contribute positively towards these causes, only to have your already existing mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, etc., holding you back.
Having a mental health-related disorder is already perceived as a stigma enough as it is in our society. When it prevents you from working and fighting for the causes you want to fight for, it can feel even more debilitating. However, it’s important to keep in mind that despair solves nothing – while helping to further society’s progression is easier said than done when you suffer from mental health issues, it can be done. You just need to do so in a way that fits within your capabilities and gives you that sense of accomplishment. And helping progressive causes can actually do a lot to help one’s depression, anxiety, etc., because helping others in and of itself is beneficial to the human mind.
With that, here are some ways to help causes such as Black Lives Matter that those who suffer from depression, anxiety, or other issues can do. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list, nor is it meant to be one-size-fits-all. There are probably other ways to help progressive causes that aren’t mentioned here, or that maybe your local organizations can come up with. But these are the most obvious methods.
Donate money, goods, or services.
This is probably the most obvious method that one can do to help. Organizations such as your local Black Lives Matter group need money and/or other tangible things to make their voices heard and their movement possible. Money isn’t inherently evil – it is a tool, and it’s what you do with your money that counts, so donating your money to causes such as Black Lives Matter is as effective a way to support them as any. If you don’t have money to spare, then try donating things or services such as giving supporters rides to meetings or protest marches with your vehicle. Ask your local group what they need, and they will tell you.
Play a more behind-the-scenes role.
Having your proverbial boots on the ground for a protest march is good and all, but contrary to what the popular media might depict, it’s not the only way you can help. There’s a lot of logistical stuff that needs to happen to make those protest marches a reality, from contacting and organizing supporters to writing press releases, making flyers and other ways of spreading the word. Maybe you have the technical know-how to maintain an online mailing list. Maybe you have graphic design skills to make the provocative communications necessary to get the word out about the cause. The bottom line is, a lot of skills are needed to make these movements a reality, and using your skills can be a great way to help without exposing yourself to situations that might trigger your issues.
Make your voice heard through writing.
Chanting slogans at the top of your lungs in a public assembly isn’t the only way to get people to notice the movement. You can use the power of the written word to express your support for Black Lives Matter and other movements from the comfort of your own home (or wherever you choose to write). Write letters to your local government officials, media outlets, or even Congress people or Senators. While this might not have any immediate impact that you might be seeking, it’s still a way to make your position and solidarity known. Even posting on social media venues such as Facebook, Twitter, etc. can be helpful in this regard – even though you shouldn’t expect to immediately change anyone’s mind with such postings, it is at least a way to express your solidarity to your fellows and can lift the spirits of those who support the movement by knowing they’re not alone.
Step out of your comfort zone gradually.
Being part of a progressive movement inherently involves stepping out of the realm of what’s comfortable. But one doesn’t immediately learn to swim by jumping into the deep end of a pool. Still, you have to step into the water – just do so gradually. You can start with the aforementioned behind-the-scenes activities and gradually work your way up. Start with donating money, then try to attend meetings to see what else they need, and go from there. So-called passive participation can be just as effective as active participation, as those who are more active in Black Lives Matter or other movements need the support of both active and passive members alike. You don’t have to be Martin Luther King Jr. or Malcolm X to make a difference…because even those famous figures needed the support of millions to make their movements known. Popular media likes to make it seem that it takes singular extraordinary individuals to exact change in our society. It’s yet another lie of the mainstream media to keep people in line. In reality, every individual counts, because even figures like King or X couldn’t do it alone.
Take care of yourself.
This is probably the most important thing you can do, because if you’re paralyzed or crippled with fear due to lack of treatment of your mental health, then you’re no good to anybody. Your mental health needs to come first, as without a sound mind and spirit, you can’t be effective in any capacity. Taking care of yourself isn’t selfish, as you’re abler to contribute when you’re healthy and happy. So take your medicine (if you do take any), observe proper diet and exercise, go to your appointments, whatever it takes to maintain a healthy and happy state. You’re most effective when you’re healthy enough to make a difference and happy enough to want to continue making a difference.
The above steps don’t just apply to Black Lives Matter, but any progressive movement. Being fearful and afraid is what the racists/fascists/warmongers want you to be, so it’s important to do what you can to counteract that fear first. You need to be the change you want to see in the world – if you want others of any stripe of life to be healthy and happy, you need to be that way yourself.