Candice Hargons

Candice Hargons

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Candice Hargons is an associate professor in the University of Kentucky’s Department of Educational, School, and Counseling Psychology. She is the founding director of the Center for Healing Racial Trauma and serves on the board of directors of the American Psychological Association.

On last year’s impact at the Center for Healing Racial Trauma

As 2020 emerged and turned into what it became, people expressed a greater need for the type of services we provide -- both on the intervention side, which is the therapy and the healing work, and then the prevention side, which is the workshops and the training, the consultation with organizations and helping people cultivate an anti-racist mindset. So both of those arms of our work expanded pretty rapidly.

On the pandemic

People have felt more loneliness, more stress, lack of boundaries with family and work responsibilities, because folks are working from home. I think we're now just now getting back into the office, and we'll see that happen a bit more in the fall. But I think that having to confront daily stressors in a way that felt more overwhelming, because of the grief that many people were experiencing--grief at loss of the milestones that they thought they were going to have like graduations and weddings and grief and loss of human life of family members and community members--we saw an uptick in substance use and misuse.

On the demand for mental health services now

Some people are immediately impacted by stress in a way where they experienced the urgent demands on their body and their resources. And they're like, ‘I need something now.’ We saw that at the outset. And some people deal with stress by trying to power through it, and then they burn out. Then they feel so exhausted that they're like, ‘Now I really need someone.’ And so we're seeing more of that now, where folks are kind of at wit's end.

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Many people that I talk to, even on the side of prevention, and the trainings and workshops that we do, have said that when the normal is reset, there won't be a returning to what was before COVID and what was before some of the racial justice initiatives that unfolded in 2020. They're really hoping to see the differences that people advocated for show up in their organizations and in their communities and even in their own way of life, so that we can have a bit more equity.

On people who want counseling but are hesitant to seek it

For those folks who continue to feel some hesitation, I understand that hesitation. And I don't think we inherently should be trusted. I think we have to earn your trust. And so being in a relationship with us is the only way we get to earn your trust. And for the therapists and counselors and psychologists and psychiatrists out there, another way to do that is to be actively involved in your community.

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Human beings weren't designed to handle everything on their own. That's just not the way social settings function. But most of us have been socialized in a way that's like, if you can't do this yourself, something's wrong with you. And I say challenge that, give it a try. And you don't have to commit initially, you can even interview therapists, you can say, 'I want to do a consultation for 15 minutes or 30 minutes to see if it will be a good fit, to see if you and I have similar values and whether or not we can do this work together.'

Note: These are excerpts from an interview with WDRB News. Some have been edited for clarity and brevity.  

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