Cumulative experiences of racial discrimination may damage mental health: Study

Cumulative experiences of racial discrimination may damage mental health: Study

The impact of racial discrimination is colossal – more than we can realize. It takes its toll on the victims’ overall health and in many cases, the effect can be beyond repair. There are several studies that link racism with health. To add to the list, a recent study by the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom has revealed the impact of repeated experiences of racial attacks on the mental health of the victims.

The purpose of the latest study, published in the American Journal of Public Health in July 2016,  was to examine the association between repeated experiences of racial discrimination and the changes in the mental health of the ethnic minority population. The study established that collective racial attacks over time significantly deteriorate mental health.

For the study, the researchers considered events of racial discrimination experienced by minority people which included being shouted at, avoiding places, feeling unsafe, or physical attacks.

Increased mental health problems higher among minorities facing racism

The researchers obtained the ethnic minority sample from four waves (2009-2013) of the U.K. Household Longitudinal Study (Understanding Society) and studied the experiences of racial discrimination that they had acquainted in the said years.

By the end of the study, the researchers concluded that increased mental health problems were more common in minority people who had been victims of racial discrimination for numerous times, compared to ethnic minorities who had not faced any incident of racial discrimination.

Dr. Laia Becares, a research fellow in the School of Social Sciences at the University of Manchester and in the Centre on Dynamics of Ethnicity (CoDE) said, “Studies that assess the association between racial discrimination and health, or examine exposure at a certain point in time, underestimate the harm of racial discrimination on the mental health of ethnic minority people and its contribution to ethnic inequalities in health.”

Racism has incremental negative effects on mental health of minorities


Once the impact of racism on ethnic minority population in the United Kingdom was examined and then established, it was also found that the factors that impacted significantly or had cumulative effect on the mental health of people, who were examined during the study, happened to be the fear of avoiding spaces and feeling unsafe induced in them by racism.

“This finding would suggest that previous exposure to racial discrimination over the life course, or awareness of racial discrimination experienced by others, can continue to affect the mental health of ethnic minority people, even after the initial exposure to racial discrimination,” said Dr. Becares.

Care for mental health

Mind is the primary source of human energy that gets people going. When the mental equilibrium is broken, physical harmony also gets hampered. Thus, it is important for people to maintain their mental health in order to lead a balanced life.

In pursuit of a balanced life, one must address the mental hurdles that may appear in due course. Mental health problems are better to be treated at the earliest. Often, mental illnesses may seem difficult to be handled on your own and that is when you are in a need of professional help.

If you or someone you know is suffering from any kind of mental illness, be it anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, ADHD, or autism, get in touch with California Mental Health Helpline. You may call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-559-3923 or chat online with one of our experts to know about various treatment options of mental disorders or to find one of the best mental health centers in California.