Police brutality having negative impact on Black people’s mental health, experts say

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Health experts said police encounters like George Floyd’s in Minneapolis are hurting the mental health of Black Americans.

Experts said police brutality toward Black people has been going on for decades, but now the wide availability of cameras and recorded videos are making it harder to cope.

“It disturbs me because I feel everyone should be treated equally,” Frank Williams, Kansas City resident said.

Floyd’s death had a big impact, but it isn’t even the latest.

Almost two weeks ago a police officer shot 20-year-old Daunte Wright to death in a Minneapolis suburb.

Last March, an officer shot and killed Breonna Taylor in her Louisville, Kentucky apartment during a raid that had nothing to do with Taylor.

Lately, therapists like, Nadirah Habeebullah, are seeing the negative impact many police interactions have on Black people’s mental health.

“I have Black male clients who are seeing an increase in anxiety,” Habeebullah said. “So just like constantly being on guard or being aware that like anything I do could be interpreted as aggressive and could result in me losing my life.”

Studies show from 2019 to 2020 the number of suicides among Black Americans increased by 17%.

Researchers haven’t pinpointed one reason for the increase, but Habeebullah said concerns about police brutality and secondary trauma could be factors.

“You can probably think of movies where you’ve sat and cried or you’ve felt really happy,” said Habeebullah. “So, if we can be that emotionally affected by something we know is fake, then for sure we are going to be emotionally affected by things that are real and relevant to us.”

She said a sign your mental health is not okay could be an increase in anxiety, anger or not wanting to get out of bed.

 Even though there is still a push for significant police reform, Habeebullah said there are ways for Black people to process their emotions.

“You want to get that out of your body, so it’s not just sitting in there and festering,” said Habeebullah.

She said ways to release the anger or stress is to be in community and talk to other people about how you’re feeling or to exercise and release the anger.

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