How the death of George Floyd has affected people all over the world – and the deep impact it has on mental health

4th Jun 2020
Challenging mental health inequalities
Aisha Sheikh-Anene headshot

Aisha Sheikh-Anene

Chair of the Board of Trustees

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This content discusses death, trauma and discrimination or discriminatory violence (such as homophobia, racism, sexism and ableism), which some people may find triggering.

The events in the USA around the death of George Floyd have shocked people to the core. Many are feeling and experiencing a sense of profound pain.

I wanted to share my own experience and why racism and discrimination are so closely interconnected to mental health.

For me personally, the events around George Floyd’s death has resulted in tears that continue to flow. I am not the only one feeling this, I know. This weariness is affecting very many people and it's affecting my own ability to work and relate normally with people at the moment.

I am of mixed heritage myself: South Asian, half Hindu half Muslim. I know prejudice in 'my own' community and I know racism. My children are of Nigerian mixed heritage. I have two teenagers, a boy and a girl who are already, unfortunately, aware of racism.

The distress of these events will be affecting us in many, different ways. People of all backgrounds will be struggling with trauma and grief. It’s vital we get all the guidance we can and support each other.

It took me until the next day to get to the point where I could bring my family together and discuss the events and enquire as to the impact on my children’s mental health. It was dispiriting to hear my son say, "yeah I'm alright, but nothing is going to change though is it?". This is the challenge.

For me, events in the United States feel acutely personal I know how racism has affected my mental health in so many ways, on so many days. It is also bringing up feelings of fear for my own children's safety and wellbeing. At the moment, I am grateful for lockdown and the restriction on going out.

These events have awakened afresh in me to the fact that racism exists in the UK.

I want to actively participate in the conversations and actions for change.

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