January 13, 2021

The insurrection at the United States Capitol on January 6th was not only a flagrant assault to our democracy, but a very traumatic event for millions of Americans across the country. Even if we were not physically in the Capitol on that day, we share a sense of horror, helplessness, and grief simply from viewing the video footage. And with the FBI’s recent warning of more violent demonstrations in all 50 states prior to President-Elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, our fear and trauma only grow—with serious consequences to our mental health.

The American Art Therapy Association (AATA) condemns this violent attack that has resulted in senseless loss of life, injury, and widespread trauma. This attack, rooted in misinformation, hate, and conspiracy theories, represents the antithesis of our values as an association and profession. AATA firmly denounces hate speech, violence, and the rhetoric that led to this attack and threatens to incite future attacks.

Violence at the Capitol and planned demonstrations across the country are compounding already dangerously high levels of stress and anxiety due to isolation, loss and hardship related to the pandemic, ongoing racial injustice, and a prolonged climate of political divisiveness. Simply put, people are scared, anxious, and exhausted. Marginalized communities, including black, indigenous, people of color (BIPOC) and LGBTQIA+, have long been targets of white supremacists and other extremist groups who have been further emboldened by the Trump Administration.

As an association of mental health professionals, we encourage anyone who needs help to seek mental health support and want to share our resources. We also call on lawmakers and community leaders to address the mental health ramifications of trauma provoked by this violent attack—on top of an existing unaddressed mental health crisis. These problems will obviously not be solved with the swearing in of the new Administration and the start of the 118th Congress. AATA remains committed to demanding our lawmakers prioritize addressing mental health and the critical issues it intersects, including racial injustice; the pandemic, and resulting isolation and economic struggle; and many others.

Please know that there is support in these difficult and scary times:

If disturbance from these events is causing you anxiety, loss of sleep or ability to focus, consider reviewing this list of coping tools by board-certified art therapist Raquel Farrell-Kirk.