One of the amazing things about activists is that we often deliberately expose ourselves to brutality when we believe it necessary. What is sometimes equally surprising is how little we know about the psychological effects of this violence. We need to prepare ourselves and learn how to support each other through the physical and emotional consequences of trauma.
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Fireweed Collective offers mental health education and mutual aid through a Healing Justice lens. They help support the emotional wellness of all people, and center the needs of those most marginalized by our society. Their work seeks to disrupt the harm of systems of abuse and oppression, often reproduced by the mental health system.
This handout explains how reevaluating our approach to our own mental, emotional and physical health can play a large part in enabling our activism to become more sustainable, and thereby help us to avoid burning out, and so continue our resistance.
This infosheet compiles suggestions on dealing with critical incident stress and helping others respond to it. Critical incident stress can be caused by events at protests and mass mobilizations such as: use of terror tactics (sometimes indiscriminately) by police, including physical, mental and sexual assault; the experience of prolonged and intense fear; being separated from injured colleagues; and sexual harassment by other protestors.