mental health support for

richmond black lives matter protesters

what we do

This is a service for Black Lives Matter protesters in Richmond VA who experienced police violence during recent protests and may be experiencing symptoms of traumatic stress like anxiety, panic, physical tension, overwhelming emotions, and/or feeling numbed out.

It's normal and common to be experiencing symptoms like that after intense and frightening events and it doesn't mean you will always feel this way. We are connecting protesters to free or low-cost, short-term mental health support to help reduce those symptoms and make sense of your experiences. This is a good place to start if you aren't sure how to access mental health services or you aren't sure you can afford them.

Here's how it works...

Step One

Sign up for an intake phone call with one of our intake coordinators. This call will last 20-30 minutes.

Step Two

During the intake phone call the intake coordinator will ask you just a few questions to help us figure out the right mental health provider for you. This will not feel like a therapy session, more like a short interview.

We will use this information to figure out who the best mental health provider would be based on what you are looking for, like a provider with a gender or racial identity that helps you feel more safe, a style or approach, the number of sessions they are offering, or whether you need free services or can afford a low cost fee. For example, we will make it a priority to match Black protesters with Black providers, if that is your preference.

Step Three

You will receive an email from us introducing you to your new mental health provider. After that, you can schedule your first appointment. Providers will meet with you online due to COVID-19 so you will need access to a computer or smart phone and some privacy for sessions. If either of those are hard for you to access let us know so we can help you figure that out.

who we are

This service is run by volunteers and coordinated by:

Dr. Myriam Kadeba I have been involved in mental health for many years and my areas of interest include anything related to Black healing and thriving. As a Black African woman, I find my efforts on this project to be one of the ways I can actively engage in supporting and bettering my community. I feel honored to do so.


Camille Rudney, LCSW I am a therapist and a white person who has been involved in anti-racist training and organizing for many years. After my experience as a counter-protester at the Unite the Right events in Charlottesville in 2018 I was really helped by short-term trauma therapy. I wanted to pay it forward.


resources

Crisis Resources


NAMI HelpLine

Call 1-800-950-NAMI (Mon-Fri 10AM – 6PM)

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Crisis Text Line

Text HOME to 741741 (24/7)

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Trevor Project (LGBTQIA+ youth)

Call 1-866-488-7386 or text START to 678-678 (24/7)

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Trans Lifeline

Call 877-565-8860 (Mon-Sun 10AM – 4AM)


A few things about traumatic events…


  • It may be hard to think or reason your way out of any reactions you may be having. That’s because it often takes a while for our bodies to re-regulate themselves after a terrifying event. Our bodies mobilize a whole bunch of energy when we experience a life-threatening event and sometimes it gets stuck in our bodies so that it feels like the event is still happening, even when we’re safe.


  • The more you can take care of your body and do things that make you feel safe right now in the present, the better. You know yourself best so do what works for you, but below are a few suggestions if you’re not sure.


  • It’s common for it to take some time and a bunch of repetitions to get some relief from any coping strategy. Don’t give up right away and keep trying. Every time you try again you are building up helpful new habits for your brain.


Coping Techniques

*These are harder at first and get easier with practice. The more you practice them, the more likely they will be useful when you’re feeling panicky or overwhelmed.


Grounding in the present:

  • Describe your present environment to yourself (quietly or out loud) using all 5 of your senses. Use as much sensory detail as possible to describe what you can touch, see, hear, smell, or taste. The more detail you use, the more you are pulling your attention away from your distress and toward the safety of your present environment.

    • For example, “I’m in a square room with a floor covered in a carpet that is blue with white lines of different lengths. Three of the walls are drywall and the other is brick with one big window. The light is bright and the temperature is warm. I can feel the weight of my body in the chair. I can feel the nubbly texture of the arms of my chair. I can hear a wooshing sound that might be air circulating” etc.

  • Check in with yourself. If you’re still feeling unsafe, go back to focusing on your senses and see if you can describe even more detail.

  • If this feels too overwhelming you can do the same thing with a small object you hold in your hands, like a seashell for example. Describe it in as much sensory detail as possible, with all the edges and textures, colors and patterns, even smells or tastes or what it sounds like when you tap it against the wall.


Safe memory:

  • This is similar to grounding in the present but using a safe memory from the past instead. Think of a memory of a moment when you felt very calm and safe. Not the most exciting memory of your life, but one that you can picture pretty well.

  • Use all 5 of your senses to bring yourself back to that moment. Again, the more detail, the better.

  • Remember where your body was in space, what the environment looked/sounded/smelled like. How was your body feeling at that moment? Were you breathing fast or slow? Were your muscles tense or relaxed? What were you feeling in your guts? What thoughts were you having? What emotions were you feeling?


Additional Resources