“… We’re all in it together. That’s what the basis of our group forum today is … we get to talk about it with each other. We get to look for solutions with each other.” — Maria Hernandez, EFC 1979
On Sunday, Feb. 19, an intergenerational group of EFC alums and supporters, including guest licensed psychologists, got together on Zoom to talk about how we can collectively address community care in the face of the racial, gender-based and environmental injustices we see in social media. A spirit of inspiration, caring attention and grounded practicality was evident throughout the forum that highlighted the importance of connecting as a community. It’s clear that difficult justice issues, ranging from institutional racism/sexism/homophobia to the violent trauma depicted on social media, demand both a personal and organizational response. As Executive Director Margot Gibney remarked: “This is where the power of change is — with us — all here together.” Here are a few glimpses into the deeper experience.
Emcee Madison Hernandez (alum 2017+) shared her inspiration for the Café as a continuation of the summer program InterGen where the EFC community could talk to each other and provide support, networking and resources, particularly for recent Encampers. Program Director Jesus Salcido Chavarria said the topic for this Café came out of the follow-up meetings with the most recent EFC alums. He introduced Ariella, who outlined the issues in terms of social media. Click to hear Ariella (alum 2022).
Members of the Alum Outreach Committee set the tone of the meeting with care. Dyanne London (EFC board member and licensed psychologist at Harvard University) prefaced the smaller group conversations by suggesting steps to take should community members feel triggered in the face of discussion. It was important that Dyanne include this in our conversation, given the rise of feelings of isolation, helplessness and hopelessness, and concerns about increasing substance abuse, domestic violence and sexual abuse reported in our culture.
Litzy Hernandez (alum 2015+) led a community-building exercise, asking for ways participants take care of themselves and let others care for them. The results can be found at this link: https://padlet.com/litzyhernandez2/CareCollective.
Roni King (alum 1970) shared community agreements for listening and speaking respectfully as the group prepared to break into small groups to reflect on these following:
- What injustices are you seeing/What injustices are you seeing and experiencing first-hand?
- How are your feelings about injustice translating in your everyday life? Do they lead to activism in social media, nothing, etc.?
- How are you seeing your peers respond to social injustice, particularly as social media covers it?
- How do you form a community that can hold you and lead to action?
- What are some antidotes to feeling overwhelmed and discouraged that have worked for you or the people around you?
Members of each group reported back the main points from their discussions.
Group One named these injustices:
- Due to DACA being fought in the courts, my legal status is not stable. It’s hard to secure my future and professional career in this position.
- Police brutality against Black and Brown folks, are people desensitized? I can’t trust cops.
- Mass shooting in schools
- Normalization of racism in schools
Click here for Mabel Picotte (alum 1992) sharing the solutions that came out of their discussion.
Group Two focused on these issues:
- It’s difficult to get a mental health appointment, and that includes access to hospitals.
- Micro aggressions at work/how to support POC at work/getting push-back at work
- Difficulties with Workman’s Comp paying for needed care
- Social media reminding and showing memories of hard or difficult experiences that can affect mental health negatively
- Social media can be helpful, but one can have a difficult time ”turning it off”
Click here for Melanie (alum 2022) describing some of the possible self-care and organizational responses the group discussed.
The group also mentioned the need to acknowledge what you are feeling as an individual. As an institutional response, participants shared a story about students organizing a petition to the school board to recognize and address the mental health environment. For resources, they named laughter as an important way to break the stress. They advocate community service as a good way to help yourself by helping others.
Click to hear Maria Hernandez (alum 1979), the spokesperson for Group Three, speak stirringly about the effect of repeatedly seeing incidents on social media. That group asked (and answered) the question ”How do you not get hopeless with so many bad things happening?”
Click for Steve Leibman (alum 1969) sharing Group Four’s experience. He also reported that the EFC’s emphasis on critical thinking can help to deal with the negative impacts of social media.
Click to hear Madison (alum 2017) share Group Five’s specific resources for getting in touch with yourself and supporting those around you.
Jessica (alum 2022) added that “… in our discussions about mental health in an institutional way, we were talking about how … having diversity is very important, so that patients who are students, young people, aren’t forced to do the work of translating [culturally].”
Ted Floyd (alum 1952) asked the question “Is there any statistical data that tells whether children are more traumatized by mass shootings, police brutality or any of the other aspects relating to mental health?”
Dr. Roxana Llerena-Quinn, senior attending psychologist Boston Children’s Hospital and assistant professor of psychology at Harvard University (guest) responded. Click here for her description of the effects of community violence on young people.
Click to hear DeVera Jackson, an LMFT specializing in trauma and PTSD, parenting, and relationship issues (supporter) responding to Ted’s question and the relationship to PTSD and everyday stress. See RESOURCES below for more information on this topic.
Executive Director Margot Gibney urged everyone to participate in the EFC’s work by joining a committee (contact us for more information).
RESOURCES FROM THE CHAT AND BEYOND*
*Special thanks to Dr. Dyanne London & DeVera Jackson, LMFT.
Google Scholar Search: Police Brutality https://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/10.2105/AJPH.2017.303691
Mass Shootings https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s41252-022-00277-3
From the New York Times: How to Help Teens Struggling with Mental Health https://www.nytimes.com/explain/2022/04/23/health/teen-mental-health-faq?smid=em-share
Dr. Gayl Crump Swaby, author, speaker, publisher, mental wellness coach and licensed mental health professional, https://gaylcrumpswaby.com/
Such wonderful discussions! Thank you all so much.????
In thinking about our earlier exercise, “what do you do to take care of yourself” being here and forming part of this community is part of that.
Thank you so much for this InterGen experience! I appreciate these conversations and debriefs that allow us to unpack these issues and find solutions.
This is so inspiring and uplifting — it’s the best antidote to social media to stay connected [with the EFC community]!