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"Our world needs love leadership": Youth advocates and counselors give advice amid pandemic and social unrest

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Posted at 8:00 PM, Aug 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-28 19:07:46-04

MILWAUKEE -- — With an ongoing pandemic and current events in Kenosha, for many, it's uncovering deep-rooted emotions, anxiety, and trauma. Counselors, doctors, and professionals who work with youth in southeast Wisconsin know their expertise in mental health is needed now more than ever.

Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Shawn Cahill said we need to be cautious about how much information we're taking in.

"At some point, it becomes more of a problem than it is helpful to be looking for every new video or every new comment or engaging every person on Facebook that you disagree with," said Cahill.

The focus, according to some community advocates, should be on our youth. A zoom panel hosted by Milwaukee non-profit, Community Advocates, addressed the issue of mental health and wellness.

"Now parents, youth workers, I know it's tough. We're here talking about wellness and mental health and I don't know about you, but I'm tired," said Brooks Griffin, a youth organizer with non-profit Safe & Sound, Inc.

Griffin says adults need to lead by example and start difficult conversations with kids. During the zoom meeting, he referenced the Jacob Blake shooting in Kenosha and the deaths of Black men and women across our country and in our neighborhoods that have led to protests for justice.

"Even if your child is not interested in going in that deep, just talk to them and say, 'Hey look, I know you're hurt but here are some suggestions that I learned from helping myself heal," Griffin said.

Counselor and social worker, Sheryl Dean, weighed in. She said going to a therapist is always a healthy choice.

"There is a stigma in the African American community that if you go see a therapist that you're crazy. We need to get rid of that right away," Dean said.
She suggested letting your child have a say in their self-care.

"Ask your child if they want to go to an African American if they want to go to a male, if they want to go to a female," she said.

"Today is the day our world needs love leadership," Griffin said.

"Our goal of parents and youth workers is to make every young person understand that they do belong," he continued.

Community Advocates has compiled a list of resources for anyone in need of mental health services. Click here for that contact information.

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