Agents of Disease & Death or Health & Well-Being


“We can be an agent of disease and death just by how we treat others.”¬†

Take a moment to take this statement in.

The truth of what Dr. David Williams, chair of the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Harvard, shared blew me away.

He spoke about the outcome of a recent study that demonstrates a link between racism and childhood obesity.

As a kid, I was taught, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” However, words actually hurt. Children experiencing discrimination are left to process the hurt and confusion of other people’s ignorance, which is nearly impossible for them to do. So like many adults, food becomes a way to self-soothe.

People discriminated against have to find a way to process their mistreatment emotionally while living with the consequences of being treated unfairly. To learn more about the mental health impacts on BIPOC individuals, download the 2023 BIPOC Mental Health Month Toolkit here.

As an adult, I was taught, “It’s not personal. It’s business.” Clearly, this phrase was made by someone trying to justify their mistreatment of others. The truth is businesses are made of people, and how we treat people matters.

Dr. William’s statement stood out because he uncovered a more profound truth we were unwilling to admit. How we treat each other can truly be a matter of life or death. His research verifies that there is an increase in adverse health outcomes the more stressful life experiences one has had.

Rather than be an agent of disease and death, I believe we can be an agent of health and well-being. To do so, we must gain greater self-awareness in uncovering and addressing our psychological needs. Otherwise, our emotions impact ourselves and others in unhealthy ways.

For organizations who want to ensure they are agents of health and well-being, emotional self-awareness is vital to creating cultures that understand the complexities of mental health that must be understood in conjunction with diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) research to avoid unintentional emotional blindspots.

Learn how the International Institute for Emotional Empowerment (IIEE) provides employers with a unique training experience that supports participants to get to the root of their emotional triggers. The process guides individuals to diminish negative feelings, which means less overwhelm and greater emotional well-being.

Download the course information by going here:

Warm Best,

Michelle Bersell
Psychotherapist and Founder
International Institute for Emotional Empowerment (IIEE)