Race-Based Stress & Trauma injuries (RBST) and Resilience

RBST describes the specific experiences of individuals who are surviving racial discrimination, threats, humiliation, racial bias, microaggressions, being unseen, and shaming events that happen at work, home, or in the community. These experiences create emotional injuries that accumulate over time and result in symptoms that are consistent with traumatic stress disorders, deplete energy, and activate a constant sense of survival mode. 

Examples of race-based stress and traumatic experiences:

  • Microaggressions
  • Hate speech, threats, and intimidation
  • Police harassment, community violence, and government abandonment
  • Workplace discrimination, bias, and retaliation
  • Medical invalidation and trauma
  • Immigration difficulties and citizenship threats
  • Underrepresentation and misrepresentation
  • Environmental threats
  • Etc.

Signs and symptoms of race-based stress and trauma include:

  • Hypervigilance (i.e. constant scanning for threats)
  • Anger and rage
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Upset stomach
  • Humiliation
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Rumination
  • Avoidance (e.g., emotional numbing, behavioral inhibition)


Individual behavioral health support can help you recover from experiences related to RBST. It can also assist you to learn protective strategies such as connecting with your own cultural identity and tapping into the strengths, history, and wisdom of your cultural communities. 

Our therapists will validate and affirm the reality of your lived experience and offer you a safe space that is focused on your healing, resilience, and emotional freedom.  Click here to request an appointment


Social support can have a buffering effect on the relationship between race-based or discriminatory experiences and psychological distress. Experiencing racism in any form is stressful, degrading, and upsetting, and it does not impact everyone in the same way. Connecting with others with similar experiences can help you feel safe, validated, and supported as you talk with others about how they have coped and grown as a result of how they handled different situations. Finding a community with your shared values also helps you to feel a greater sense of connection and belonging, which reduces feelings of isolation.

We currently offer the following social support programs:

Kultivate Konnection

Kultivate Konnection is a monthly, 30-minute virtual drop-in group developed through a partnership with UVA-Population Health department and UVA Faculty, Employee, Assistance Program. Kultivate Konnection groups offer an emotional wellness break and is a space that facilitates racial healing through a connection with colleagues, shared experiences, and the cultivation of a sense of authenticity and kinship. Visit the group to learn and share strategies for challenges you are facing and feel uplifted in a welcoming and soulful environment. 

Facilitators will also share other resources available to support you. It works best if you are able to have your camera on and talk in the session.


Arminda B. Perch, MBA, LCSW, and Pamela Meredith Hamilton, MAMF, Mental Health Ally
Start date: First Thursdays of the Month, starting February 1, 2024
Time: 11:30 am
Eligibility: UVA Employees (Health System and Academic; includes UPG & UVA-Wise): e.g., Fellows, Medical Residents, Staff, Faculty, Clinicians, and Clinical Team Members) and employees of FEAP Partner organizations.

Click Here to Register for Kultivate Konnection

Circle of LightCOL

The Circle of Light (COL) is a six-session group that was developed in partnership with the Population Health Department and Faculty and Employee Assistance Program (FEAP) for the purpose of creating an emotional wellness space where individuals can process their experience with racial trauma through the exploration of shared stories and lived experiences. COL will also help participants understand what racial trauma is and how it can affect their mental and emotional well-being and to incorporate ways to interrupt the trauma response by drawing upon culturally-grounded healing strategies.

We welcome and invite you to virtually drop into the Circle of Light on the 4th Thursday of each month to be seen, heard, felt, and to let your light shine!

Arminda B. Perch, MBA, LCSW, and Pamela Meredith Hamilton, MAMF, Mental Health Ally

Start date: Most recent Circle of Light group ended on July 27, 2023 - check back for 2024 dates.
Eligibility: UVA Employees (Health System and Academic; includes UPG & UVA-Wise): e.g., Fellows, Medical Residents, Staff, Faculty, Clinicians, and Clinical Team Members) and employees of FEAP Partner organizations

Click Here to Register for Circle of Light

Emotional Emancipation Circle

Emotional Emancipation Circles (EEC) were developed by the Community Healing Network in collaboration with The Association of Black Psychologists for the purpose of creating liberatory spaces where individuals can share stories as a small-group community and deepen their understanding of the impact of historical forces on their sense of self-worth, relationships, and wider communities. EECs are led by specially trained facilitators who assist participants to learn essential emotional wellness skills and African-centered practices to help heal cultural wounds and the emotional legacies of racism.

EECs are offered as culturally grounded, self-help spaces and are not intended to be nor should they be treated as substitute for professional counseling, advice, and therapy. We urge you to seek the help of qualified mental health professionals, if and when necessary.

The Department of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Community Engagement conducts EECs on campus or in the community. If you'd like more information, reach out to Melody Pannell, Director at mgz6nz@uvahealth.org or call 434.243.8526 and view other upcoming events here.

Online Resources and Education

Positive Affirmations, Poetry, Apps, Articles, & Stories

Education about Racism as Trauma

    The above resources are not designed for crisis intervention. If you are experiencing a mental health emergency, please call 911, go to your nearest emergency room, or contact one of the crisis hotlines listed below:
    • National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 988, available 24/7 | Lifeline Chat
    • Region Ten Emergency Services: (434) 972-1800, available 24/7