Can Just Watching Police Brutality Harm Your Mental Health?

Peace Of Mind’s  host Taraji  P. Henson and  co-host Tracie Jade discuss the mental health toll of police brutality on the Black community.



  • Title: Can Just Watching Police Brutality Harm Your Mental Health?
  • Description: Therapist Dr. Michael Lindsay unpacks the severe mental health effects from experiencing police brutality both first and second hand and gives tools on how to manage.


Some highlights from the episode include:

Taraji, Tracie and Dr. Michael Lindsay discuss vicarious trauma associated with police brutality

Taraji: “I’ve never had a real physical encounter with the police, but I have seen it happen, over and over again, on social media and it affects me. Just today we were talking about it and I had heart palpitations, my heart, I had to leave the room. Cause I know any time I see a cop, if I have a chance, I’ll turn down a different street…I’ve never really had anything happen to me but this trauma, from watching it so much over and over and over, I’m Black, is that common?”

Dr. Michael Lindsay: “Yeah, so we call that vicarious trauma, so if you see on social media, on the news, George Floyd – how could anyone not watch that and feel traumatized? I went to bed after seeing George Floyd, having nightmares about that.”

Taraji: “I’m so glad they put that sensitive filter, I need to be warned, I can’t, I’m an empath, I feel that inside of me. It affects my whole day, I can’t.”

Dr. Michael Lindsay: “It does have an impact on the Black community in terms of their mental health.”

Dr. Michael Lindsay outlines police brutality statistics 

Dr. Michael Lindsay: “There is a Washington Post analysis that found that Blacks are two and a half times more likely, than any other race, to be killed by law enforcement. There is another study in 2016 that found that, if you’re a Black male between the age of 15-34, you’re 9 times more likely to die at the hands of law enforcement, than any other racial or ethnic group. So, this is a reality, y’know the effect of police brutality is quite simply, traumatizing in terms of your mental health and your reaction to it.”

  • 7:04 – Taraji asks Dr. Michael Lindsay what change needs to happen to bring about police reform
    • Dr. Michael Lindsay: “One thing that I think that’s really critical in terms of law enforcement training, they need to be trained on implicit biases, to have a different mindset in terms of that person’s skin color and what it conjures up for you about who they are and what they are into. The thing about implicit bias, is that it starts as early as Pre-K in our society. Black and brown kids are over suspended and expelled.”
    • Taraji: “And over policed because if they are having a traumatic moment or a manic moment, they’re not looked upon as mentally ill, they’re looked upon… they call the police, that is why you have six-year-olds in handcuffs.”
    • Dr. Michael Lindsay: “That’s right, and so that has a potential for a cascading effect, right? Because once that kid gets labeled in Pre-K and kindergarten as being bad that follows them.”
    •  Dr. Michael Lindsay, Tracie, and Taraji on how to combat the negative mental health effects of police brutality 
      • Dr. Michael Lindsay: “Let me be clear about this, not all law enforcement is bad.”
      • Taraji: “No not at all, that’s like saying all Black people are bad.”
      • Dr. Michael Lindsay: Right, we’re not saying that at all but there are some rotten apples in the barrel, right? And it seems to be systemic in a way that is going to require federal level response.”
      • Tracie: “And until we get there, because we know that’s going to take some time, it’s going to take us voting, it’s going to take all the things, right, that we need to do to take some ownership, we have to check in on our mental health.”
      • Dr. Michael Lindsay: “You know in our community we shun going to therapy, right, but I think that we’ve gotta figure out a way to bridge that gap, we gotta get connected to those mental health supports when we need them.”