The State v Chauvin trial is in full force. We have been watching, reading, and listening and feel compelled to address how the trial impacts mental health.

First, this trial is traumatic. We have seen camera footage of George Floyd being choked to death next to helpless bystanders. We have listened to heart-wrenching testimonies and watched witnesses relive traumatic experiences in the courtroom. We have to grapple with the possibility that the police officer on trial, like so many before him, could be acquitted for his crimes. An acquittal would further normalize the murder of Black people by police without consequence, continuing the legacy of trauma, institutionalized racism, and violence. These are all threats to human survival, specifically in the BIPOC community.

We are wired for survival. The human nervous system is built to react to anything we perceive as threats to our safety, livelihood, and well-being (van der Kolk, 2014). Our body’s stress response to danger (fight, flight, or freeze) can be activated even if we/others are not in imminent danger, but are hearing about danger and/or threats to our survival.  Our brains take  in external information and cues to make sense of the world. The higher functioning parts of our brain can struggle to piece together emotionally charged information and therefore respond to emotional threats as it does to physical threats (van der Kolk, 2014).

While watching the trial, our nervous system may be triggered and consequently we experience intense emotions. We may feel confusion, shock, rage, or even numbness while watching the trial.  We may feel scared and worried about the future, heartbroken, devastated and disappointed. We may feel disgusted with certain actions and words (or lack thereof). All these feelings bear weight on our psychological and emotional health and may trigger racial trauma in Black individuals. Therefore, it is imperative to care for ourselves and each other through this time (Levine, 2010). Here are a few examples of healthy forms of self-care.

  • Take breaks from watching/reading/listening, especially if you are part of the BIPOC community. You can care about the trial and maintain healthy boundaries about how much of it you watch, read, and/or listen to. Some people may want and need to watch all of it, while others may find that too painful and traumatic. Check in with yourself any time you are watching, reading, listening, or discussing the trial. Honor your own boundaries even if they are different from those around you.

  • Practice self-care of basic needs (eating, sleeping, movement, sunlight/nature, social connection, laughter and play, meditation/prayer). Try to avoid unhealthy compensatory behaviors such as drinking alcohol, over-eating, using drugs, or other impulsive and potentially harmful behaviors.

  • Share your emotions, including painful ones, with others who will understand. This helps us feel less alone and heal together. We need community right now (check out Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown for more on the importance of collective emotional experiences like funerals, sporting events, concerts, etc).

  • Validate your own experience of the trial and all the emotions that come with it. That means avoiding unhelpful comparisons and not diminishing your pain to make others more comfortable (avoid “should-ing” on yourself or “at least-ing” yourself).

  • Focus on actions you can take that align with your long-term goals and values, no matter what emotions may come up. We can feel sad/angry/worried/confused/etc and still take care of ourselves and others. Reach out to your church, friends and family for support. Join a local group that aligns with your values. Take advantage of the nice weather by getting outside. Bring the kids to the park, play with your pet or observe nature. You can care about the trial and still experience joyful and/or meaningful activities in your life.

  • If you are a mental health provider, consider volunteering to provide free services to those who may need a listening ear.

*If life feels unmanageable, you may want to consider talking to a therapist. Be aware of other symptoms that may indicate you need additional support such as dissociation, anger outbursts, hopelessness, difficulty getting out of bed/doing activities of daily living, flashbacks, hyper vigilance, nightmares, lack of sleep, self-destructive or impulsive behaviors, and/or emotional detachment. You don’t have to go through this alone.

The OCD MN team recognizes the significant impact of racial trauma and retraumatization. We started writing this blog planning to focus on the emotional and psychological stress of the State v Chauvin trial. Now, with heavy hearts, we must also acknowledge the death of Daunte Wright, a young Black man who was shot and killed by a police officer in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota this past Sunday. We encourage self-compassion and care during this challenging time. Reach out to your neighbors, friends and loved ones. There is a community here that supports and stands with you while fighting for the equality and respect of Black lives.

As always, stay brave.

Erin, Jayme, and Emily


Resources for the community:

A Minnesota resource! A website completely dedicated to supporting children’s mental health and family services specifically hosting conversations about race, neurodiversity and culture using local data and community dialogue. Located in Minnesota and partnering with regional coordinators in YOUR community. Check out the site to find information about sponsored events.

NAMI Minnesota (National Alliance on Mental Illness) is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of children and adults with mental illnesses and their families. For over 40 years, NAMI Minnesota has worked to promote the development of community mental health programs and services, change public attitudes about mental illnesses, improve access to services and increase opportunities for recovery. This page is dedicated to providing resources to the BIPOC community during the Chauvin trial.

A National resource! One amazing website that offers connection to resources for Black mental and emotional health. Beam touts itself as a site to connect Black people to resources without barriers.

Resources for Healing and Action During the Trial of Derek Chauvin | YWCA

Resources curated by the YWCA for taking care of yourself and loved ones, and staying updated on the process and taking action to demand change.

Black Virtual Wellness Directory: BEAM

A directory of virtual Black therapists, doulas, yoga teachers, mediators, and more.

Black Mental Wellness: Health | United States

Black Mental Wellness provides access to evidence-based information, trainings, and resources about mental health and behavioral health topics from a Black perspective. Their mission is to highlight and increase the diversity of mental health professionals, and to decrease the mental health stigma in the Black community.

Trauma Recovery Project — UROC — University of Minnesota

Founded by the Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center at the University of Minnesota, the Trauma Recovery Project (TRP) creates a roadmap for recovery from trauma through a comprehensive strategy for positive change in the lives of families and the community as a whole. Building on community expertise and the University’s research in the area of healing and historical trauma, UROC convened teams of families, University researchers, community leaders, healthcare professionals, and representatives from the faith community in an effort to identify trauma-related issues that are important to the Northside community.


Brown, B. 2017. Braving The Wilderness. New York, NY: Penguin Random House.

Levine, Peter. 2010. In An Unspoken Voice. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Book.

Van der Kolk, B.A. 2014. The Body Keeps the Score. New York, NY: Penguin.