Racism has been an ongoing issue, especially in the United States. We see videos online of Asian women being attacked is heartbreaking. Other than the physical attacks, the negative impacts of racism on mental health must be taken seriously. When you come to think of it, racism is also bullying.
The trauma and experiences caused by racism lead to serious mental health issues, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Every day, people of color go through racial inequity at work, at school, in the neighborhood, in the community. Do you experience racial discrimination and are concerned about your mental health? Read further; this article will give you insights into the issues surrounding mental health conditions and racism.
What Are the Types of Racial Discrimination?
Here’s a fact, did you know that in 2018 in New York City, 88% of the police stops made by the NYPD are African Americans? How about the fact that White patients in US hospitals get better health care than Hispanic, African American, and Asian patients? Also, one study found that White Americans are more likely to get hired as compared to Black workers? Not all company, law enforcement or health care system does this, and it may not be a conscious choice. Unfortunately, it still happens, and racism because of skin color is still lurking in the shadows.
White people get discriminated too. British people being stereotyped as not having the most attractive teeth is common. Saying words like all White people are ‘racists’ is also a racist stereotype because not all are. Here are the types of racial inequity and some of its examples.
Prejudice and Overt Bias
Prejudice and overt bias refer to the belief that one race is superior to the other. That people from first-world countries are far more superior than those who live in third-world countries. The movie Hidden Figures starring Taraji Henson and Kevin Costner is a great example of prejudice and overt bias. The smart and talented Black women working for NASA have separate office buildings, bathrooms and are unequally treated. The film depicts the prejudice and overt bias in the ’60s, which is true to life. This is due to the prejudice that white people are more valuable than Black Americans.
Stereotyping is making a judgment about someone because of their race, color, or ethnicity. Racial profiling is the most common type of stereotyping. Saying that all Asians are good at math and loves to eat rice, or that all Black Americans love to eat fried chicken and drink cool-aid, or even saying that White Americans love to eat hamburgers is racial profiling. This stereotyping may not sound like a big deal for some, some may find it funny, but for some, it’s offensive and may affect their mental health.
Remember that your race or skin color doesn’t define you. Stereotypes exist in cultures and countries as a whole, and whatever you do, it’s somehow planted in the minds of other people.
Subtle Forms of Racial Inequity
Then there’s the more subtle form of discrimination, like turning away job applicants because of their skin color. Or banks not granting mortgage loans to Mexicans. It happens everywhere, in supermarkets, malls, restaurants, schools, or in the workplace.
You can see in movies like kids having their own lunch table with their same race, or skin color is just sad. Hearing news like hate crimes on what happened to George Floyd is arguably a case of racism as well. All of these forms of racial inequality, even sarcastic comments, are hurtful and may negatively impact one’s mental health.
What Are the Common Mental Health Problems Caused by Racism?
We don’t get to see news about racism all the time but believe that it’s happening every day. Regardless of your age, even when you hold American Citizenship by birth, but if you have a different skin color, you can be a target of racism. All these emotions and grudges can pile up that may affect the mental health status of a person. Here are some of the common mental illness faced by people who experience racism:
- Depression: The most common mental health issue due to racism is depression, regardless of the age of the person. Racism comes in many different forms. Study shows that African Americans experience racism 1-5 times a day, every day. Facing this every day can affect a person’s self-esteem and can be a cause of depression.
- Anxiety Disorders: When a person experiences racism, this may cause anxiety disorders. Those who experience racism get anxious when interacting with people of a different color because they’re afraid it might happen again.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): A person who experienced some kind of traumatic physical attack due to racism may develop PTSD. You may have heard of the news lately of an old Asian woman attacked in San Francisco and fortunately fights back, sending the attacker to the hospital. Xiao Zhen Xie, the woman, attacked, was physically hurt and is now experiencing PTSD.
- Substance Use Disorders: Due to poor coping skills caused by racism, others may resort to excessively drinking alcohol or using illegal drugs.
- Suicidal Thoughts: Prolonged depression without getting help from a mental health professional may lead to suicidal thoughts.
The Barriers in Racism and Mental Health Care
Unfortunately, mental health inequities exist, where minority groups or black people have poor access to mental health resources. There’s also the stigma of seeking mental help being a barrier. For example, Black men see it as a sign of weakness or a personal failure to seek mental help treatment. Rather than seeking mental help, others bottle up to their feelings or resort to alcohol. It’s also sad to know that in the mental health system in the US, there are only a few minorities or Black mental health professionals in the country. Studies show that due to cultural indifferences and mental health disparities, a patient may be incorrectly diagnosed.
What Should You Do?
If it’s causing you too much anxiety or stress, try to turn a blind eye to these racial comments and these negative words. Also, try to learn healthy coping skills to these stressors to take care of your mental health. You can’t control what other people might say or do, but you can certainly take control of your life and mental well-being. Rise above all this negativity and prove to them that your skin color does not define who you are.
Seek Help from a Mental Health Professional
If you’re having issues with racism and if you feel like it’s taking a toll on your mental health, seek therapy right away. Mental health care is essential, schedule an appointment with Kentucky Counseling Center. We’ve got many mental health professionals to help to discuss issues of racism in mental health.