The Decision in Ferguson and You

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Photo credit Christina Feldman

With the Grand Jury’s decision, a myriad of possible emotions may have been triggered for some of us ranging from anger, disillusionment, extreme disappointment, anxiety and/or other intense emotions.

In addition, the possible ramifications of the decision might pose troubling personal dilemmas since there are two sides to the issue and possibly more than two....but for our emotional health.... revolves around truth for us, our experiences, and the experiences of people we care about.

Some students might feel very frustrated and angry about the Grand Jury decision because they do not agree with the decision at all. Other students might support the decision and cannot understand why the decision cannot not just be “accepted”.  It is also possible that students who are friends will find out that they are at odds with differing opinions on this issue and may experience increased tension and difficulty maintaining the friendship and may even experience the ending of some friendships.

These and other kinds of personal feelings, experiences and conflicts can add to the level of intensity of emotions that you might already be feeling.  However, you can be assured that it is "normal" and expected that you might be experiencing a wide range of emotions at an already stressful academic time.

We at the Counseling Center encourage you to be aware that such intense feelings can and often do cause additional physical and mental strain. As you go through the next few days or several weeks, you may feel more fatigued and be having difficulty concentrating, sleeping, and eating normally. Many of you may find yourselves crying or getting angry more easily. In fact, you may direct irritation or aggression at people or things that usually would not bother you.

Some of you may have noticed some or all of these things happening to you, but you may have just been attributing these feelings or experiences solely toward the rigors of being a student. Perhaps after reading this, you might make the connection that your increased anxiety might be connected to this Grand Jury decision.

Just remember, that stressful times require us to be easier on ourselves. It is very important to be extra caring of ourselves at this time. Some effective ways of coping with stress and related emotions might include:


Recognize what you can and cannot control. We do not have any control over the Ferguson Grand Jury and the decision they came to, but we can control many things in our daily lives. One way people try to gain a sense of control is by gathering information and being knowledgeable about the issue. Unfortunately, sometimes having more information can increase stress. It is wise to monitor whether news and excessive social media exposure has a positive or negative impact on you and how much is right for you.


·         Pay attention to specific needs of race or ethnicity concerns. This decision may result in a heightened sense of awareness of your racial/ethnic identities.

·         Talking over your concerns with other people in a safe, comfortable environment could be very helpful

·         Actively find ways to not be alone: Spending time with friends, family, colleagues, or social groups who are willing/able to listen to you can be extremely helpful. Even if you do not feel like talking, being with others who are experiencing the same feelings and talking about them can be comforting.

·         Participate in campus counseling support services: Many support services are available to provide you with a safe space to share concerns, worries, fears, and/or anxiety with a professional counselor. Walk-in crisis support is offered here at the Counseling Center daily at 10 am and 2 pm and scheduled appointments can be made by calling (816) 235-1635.

·         Turn to your spiritual and religious faiths: If you belong to a spiritual or religious  community, gathering together for worship, prayer, discussion, a meal or other forms of religious or spiritual expression, can strengthen the bonds of human connections and be a force of comfort in your life.


At a stressful time, asking for help can be very difficult for some people. Sometimes, it is not an easy step. People often do not like to ask others for help or to involve outsiders with these kinds of difficulties unless there is considerable distress and unhappiness and until after they have tried everything else. It takes sound judgment to know when additional help is needed and courage to ask for it.

So don't be afraid to ask for help. If it is hard for you, learn how to ask comfortably, knowing that you have the need, the right, and the inborn ability to do it. Much more often than you think, other people (friends, family and professionals) are more than willing to help provide you with a listening ear.

Written by and used with permission of the University of Michigan CAPS