Idaho, Iowa, Des Moines
June 3, 2022

Social Justice and Mental Health – You Don't Have to Cause Yourself Anxiety to Help the Cause

So many millennials want to help save the world. They get wrapped up in the sounds of social justice. But social justice isn’t what you think. It started out as finding fairness in society way back in the 1700s. But these days, social justice covers a wide range of areas of inequity. 

Social justice covers four main areas – human rights, access to shelter, food, and education, participation, and equity. Because our system is broken, so many people have taken to the streets to protest. More people are helping out the homeless and underserved populations.

But the problem is that millennials feel like they’re not doing enough. Social justice and mental health are big problems. Millennials get anxious when they feel as if they haven’t done enough for causes they care about. Even if they’re volunteering in soup kitchens and protesting on the streets and joining programs like Big Brother/Big Sister. It still doesn’t feel like enough. 

the sound of social justice

Listening to the Sound of Social Justice

There are so many things in the world that are unfair. When you come from a place of privilege, whatever that looks like for you, it may feel like your duty to participate in social justice. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great that young people are joining and sometimes leading the good fight. But it’s not for everybody.

There are plenty of people who care just as much as the people marching in the streets about what’s going on, but don’t have the mental capacity to join the fight. Marches, for example, can be anxiety and stress-inducing. And then when you don’t march, you feel bad about yourself for not doing enough. Anxiety creeps in.

Listening to the sound of social justice can be hard when you’re already an anxious, conscientious person. There are other ways to help besides marching and volunteering. You can give money to causes you support. You can donate clothes and books to homeless shelters or hospitals. Psychiatric hospitals are always looking for clean clothes for their patients.

These are all great ways to help out the community, but when it comes to social justice, there’s a lot more to be done. Social justice isn’t what you think, necessarily. Three areas of social justice that are super important right now are racial equality, gender equality, and LGBTQ+ rights. 

Social Justice Isn’t What You Think

Social Justice means a lot of different things. At its core, it means all human rights are respected and protected. It means everyone’s opportunities for basic rights are equal. Discrimination needs to be stopped. But you don’t necessarily have to be the one to do it.

I mentioned doing things like volunteering or donating. That’s fine. But that’s not actively fighting for social justice. Social justice isn’t what you think. It’s fighting for basic equality against groups of people who are marginalized, such as joining the Black Lives Matter movement. Imagine being a queer, black woman. This is an extreme example because I’ve demonstrated the three main areas of inequality. But what can you do for that woman?

It feels like nothing, but that’s not true. You can donate to groups that fight for inequality. You can educate yourself on relevant topics that you’re passionate about. There are a lot of ways to fight for social justice. But you don’t have to shoulder that burden if it feels too much. It doesn’t make you a bad person to stay inside while your friends protest. Your anxiety about not doing enough can be put to use in different ways.

It’s overwhelming. Or it can be. There are millennials out there actively fighting the good fight. And then there are plenty of millennials who aren’t marching or rallying. Volunteering and donating may be as far as you can go. And that’s ok. Social justice isn’t what you think. It can be many things. But one thing is clear – our generation doesn’t feel like we’re doing enough.

social justice isn’t what you think

Social Justice and Mental Health

Many people, especially millennials, feel like they should be doing more to help marginalized groups. And I get it. But I also care about your mental health. Social justice and mental health don’t always go together. 

I work with millennials with anxiety, and I see people who feel like they’re not doing enough to help “the cause.” They care, but they either don’t know what they can do, or they’re afraid of what something like marching for a cause will be like.

Anxiety about not doing enough for social justice is pretty common amongst my clients. Millennials in particular get anxious when it comes to fighting for social justice because no matter what we do, it never feels like enough. Or doing anything feels overwhelming and anxiety-provoking. 

In my work with anxious millennials, I try to normalize their feelings. It’s ok if you weren’t out at the women’s march or protesting in the streets about George Floyd. That doesn’t mean you don’t care, or that you can’t make a difference.

The most important thing is to tend to your own mental health. You can’t pour water from an empty glass. If you’re not feeling mentally well, you won’t be able to support people and causes you care about.

If you want to get involved in social justice matters, I recommend doing some research. See what you can do for the marginalized groups you want to help that feel doable. Go that route and see where it takes you. You might decide that you want to and can do more. Or you might decide that it’s not for you.

Therapy Can Help You Deal With Social Justice and Mental Health

Not sure how to manage the sounds of social justice? Consider therapy – I can help you work through your challenges and come up with goal-setting strategies to keep you on track to reach your goals. Social justice isn’t what you think, and I’m here to help you navigate getting involved at the level that feels comfortable for you.

During our work together, you’ll learn how to set realistic goals and see them through. We’ll come up with coping skills to deal with anxiety around social justice and help you step confidently into the world knowing what you’re dealing with and how you can manage it.

I’m ready if you are. Reach out today to schedule a complimentary consultation.

Meet the author

Danielle Wayne

Danielle is an anxiety therapist. She specializes in helping busy millennials dial down their anxiety and ADHD, so they can perform at their best. Danielle has been featured on Apartment Therapy, SparkPeople, Lifewire, and Now Art World. When Danielle isn't helping her clients, she's playing video games or spending time with her partner and step children.

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