COLUMBIA - Nearly a year ago, in the week after George Floyd's death, there was a spike in reported depression and anxiety for Black Americans.
The National Center for Health Statistics partnered with the Census Bureau to conduct an experimental data survey. The household survey showed higher signs of depression and anxiety for 41% of Black people in the U.S., in the week of May 28 through June 2.
Laine Young Walker, the chair of psychiatry at MU Health Care, said trauma can occur just from being a witness.
“Trauma can occur if something happens to you as a person, but trauma can also occur through things you witness or see. And so, for some people who saw that once or multiple times, depending on how the impact was for them. It could’ve been a very traumatic experience,” Walker said.
The almost nine-minute video of Floyd's death has been easily available for those to watch on the internet.
The video is said to have taken the toll on some Black Americans' mental health. Key Banks, a University of Missouri student, said it's hard to watch.
“It is draining both mentally and surprisingly physically as well. Seeing people who look like you, who have backgrounds similar to you, who have families that look like yours, seeing them killed unnecessarily. Seeing them murdered. That is hard,” Banks said.
Banks said he needed time at home to get support from his family.
“I needed space, but yes, I also needed to be comforted with people who looked like me and who felt what I was feeling and who understood,” Banks said.
After seeing the video of Floyd's death, Banks said he became more tense when around police officers.
“I can feel it in my body when I tense up knowing that there are officers around and I haven’t done anything wrong and I’m not going to do anything wrong. But, it’s just knowing that you don’t have to be doing anything wrong. You just have to be black and that is a real concern,” Banks said.
Walker said this reaction stems from racial trauma.
She said it's important to seek help and talk about it, rather than trying to take care of it on your own.
Banks said he's found himself frequenting the Gaines Oldham Black Cultural Center on campus, more than he had over his three years at MU.
Banks said the Center was a place he sought to talk through his feelings with peers that looked like him.