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Let’s Rise to the Occasion

Four diverse hands gripping the wrists of each other’s.

Every human life is priceless. At the National Institutes of Health (NIH), we know it well, and that’s why we dedicate our work to the enhancement of human health. While stopping a pandemic squarely falls under NIH’s mission, let’s not forget that psychosocial and emotional well-being is also an essential part of human health.

Let’s acknowledge that social unrest and injustice takes a toll on our psychological well-being and mental health [1,2]. Children as young as 12 months old know when unfairness happens [3]. As if being fair is hard-wired into us. Witnessing the death of George Floyd and the fate of many Blacks and African Americans under similar circumstances rattles this core part of who we are. We experience moral outrage and anger. These emotions rob our attention and ability to be our best selves and do our best work.

Let’s take this moment to pause, breathe, and reflect. Let our tears fall because it signals solidarity rather than weakness. Let’s make room for a safe space to have authentic dialogues about institutional racism and its impact on our everyday lives. Let’s be ready to make mistakes and accept privileges that have blinded us to other injustices. Let’s free ourselves from judgments and listen even to words that challenge the beliefs we have about ourselves. Collective actions begin from within.

As one finds strength in fatigue, we see the greatest of humanity and togetherness at the darkest times in history. Let’s find this humanity in us and stand by one another. Let’s rise to the occasion at this challenging time in our country.

Resources to help us take actions:


  1. Galovski TE, Peterson ZD, Fox-Galalis A. Trajectories of Posttraumatic Stress and Depression in Police and Community Members Following the Violence during Civil Unrest in Ferguson, Missouri. Am J Community Psychol. 2018;62(3-4):433‐448. doi:10.1002/ajcp.12273
  2. Ni MY, Yao XI, Leung KSM, et al. Depression and post-traumatic stress during major social unrest in Hong Kong: a 10-year prospective cohort study. Lancet. 2020;395(10220):273‐284. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(19)33160-5
  3. McAuliffe K, Blake PR, Warneken F. Do kids have a fundamental sense of fairness? [Internet]. Scientific American. 2017 August – [cited 2020 Jun 4].

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