St. Louis' civil unrest can cause stress, depression, says mental health professionals

Mental health professionals said strong emotions are normal reaction to civil unrest in St. Louis.

Since last week’s 'not guilty' decision in a fatal police shooting of a suspect, daily protests, property damage, and police confrontations followed. Mental health professionals said much of the St. Louis community is feeling the stress.

“They’re feeling the stress. They’re feeling the anxiety. They’re feeling grief over what’s happened in their community,” said Margaret Schicker, Director of Counseling Services for Provident, a mental health agency.

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Schicker said she soon expects local mental health providers to get calls from St. Louisans emotionally affected by the daily protests.

“Often times the need for services comes a little bit after things quiet down and little bit when people are still experiencing those symptoms,” said Schicker.

Rose Jackson-Beaver is the Program Director for the Bridges to Care Recovery Program which provides faith-based counseling via the Behavioral Health Network in the St. Louis area. Jackson-Beaver said it’s normal to react to stressful situations like the recent civil unrest.

“I think if they’re worrying a lot, they’re crying, they can’t sleep at night and it’s something they constantly think about, they may need help,” said Jackson-Beaver. “Sometimes they may withdraw from other and just don’t want to talk and they hold all of the pain inside.”

Even crisis counselors and other mental health professionals feel the stress, often from helping clients deal with their stress. That’s why Behavioral Health Response in west St. Louis County features a tranquility room for staff members.

“This space allows them to decompress from that stress,” said Angela Tate, Vice President of Operations, “to be able to relax and process their own feelings so that they can restore and return to a place where they can continue to help.”

Tate said if stress, depression, or other unusual symptoms linger for more than a few days, it can be a signal that outside help is needed.

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“There is no right or wrong way to experience the grief and the stress that’s associated with what we’re all experiencing now,” said Tate. “We’re all impacted one way or another and help is available. Recovery is possible.”

The following counseling services are available:

  • Behavioral Health Response | 866-469-4908
  • Provident | 314-533-8200
  • Behavioral Health Network | 314-320-5356