WASHINGTON, D.C. – This Mental Health Month, Active Minds, CLASP, and The Trevor Project announce the release of CALM, a tool for repairing relationships following statements or actions that create intentional or unintentional harm against stigmatized or culturally marginalized groups.
These actions or statements – referred to as microaggressions – are often experienced by people living with mental illness or other disabilities, people of color, women and femmes, and LGBTQ+ people. They can negatively impact people’s mental and emotional well-being, their impact often becoming more pronounced over time, which means they can become increasingly devastating.
Problematic statements can be heard in reference to mental health (“They are acting crazy!”); race (“When I look at you, I don’t see color.”); sexuality (“That’s so gay!”); gender (“Boys will be boys!”); or disabilities (“At least you’ve always got a place to sit!”).
CALM gives people who commit microaggressions – whether intentionally or unintentionally – the tools to correct the situation, prevent further mental distress, and help to create a more equitable world.
“At one point or another, we all have said the wrong thing unintentionally as we go about our daily lives. It’s important that you address and correct the harm that you have caused. Our latest tool, CALM, can help anyone learn the simple steps for how best to respond and repair relationships and rebuild trust,” said Alison Malmon, founder and executive director of Active Minds. “We can’t expect to have a mentally-well world without first learning from and correcting mistakes and prejudices that hurt others.”
The tool gives users step-by-step instructions on how to correct a microaggression:
- Center the other person
- Put the situation in perspective – don’t make excuses or say that you had good intentions or focus on “you.” Appreciate the person for trusting you enough to be honest. See this as an opportunity to improve your relationship with the other person. Centering the other person sounds like “Please share what’s on your mind. I’m listening,” or “I’m open to your feedback.”
- Acknowledge impact over intent
- Look within and take responsibility for your actions. Acknowledge that you have biases and blind spots. Don’t villainize the other person. Acknowledging sounds like “I can see your point,” or “That makes sense.”
- Let the other person talk first and validate their feelings. Listening sounds like “I hear you,” “What I’m hearing from you is… [then, restate what you heard to confirm],” and “It helps to hear this feedback. Thank you for sharing.”
- Make it right
- Offer a meaningful apology and ask what you can do. Accept that repairing the relationship might take time – you are just starting the process now. Remember that this is not about them helping you to feel OK with yourself; it is about what is best for the person you hurt.
“Young people across the country consistently identify racism and discrimination as key mental health stressors. CLASP is honored to partner with Active Minds and the Trevor Project on CALM,” said Nia West-Bey, director of CLASP’s Youth Policy. “Providing young people with the language to understand their experiences with microaggressions and a tool to help repair harm is a much-needed practical coping resource. This Mental Health Awareness month, we are glad to participate in this effort to bring attention to the role of equity and justice in mental wellness.”
About Active Minds: Active Minds is the nation’s leading nonprofit organization promoting mental health awareness and education for young adults. Active Minds has a presence at more than 1,000 campuses, schools, communities, and workplaces nationwide, and is powered by a robust Chapter Network, the nationally acclaimed Send Silence Packing® display, inspiring Active Minds Speakers, and our tailored Active Minds @Work initiative. The organization is dedicated to ending the silence and changing the culture around mental health for everyone. To learn more, visit www.activeminds.org.