AFRICANGLOBE – Researchers have found that those who face discrimination on a day to day basis are more prone to developing mental disorders including anxiety, depression and substance abuse. The study is focused on discrimination of various types, character-based discrimination, disrespect and condescension. They found that African-Americans and Caribbean Blacks who experience discrimination are at a greater risk for mental health problems.
Christopher Salas-Wright, professor at The University of Texas at Austin’s School of Social Work and co-author of the study, said the study results show that the type and the frequency of discrimination play an important factor. He said various types of discrimination such as disrespect, condescension, hostile and character-based discrimination have a huge effect on an individual and stressed on the fact that it “negatively impacts mental health.”
The co-authors of the article are Trenette Clark (lead author) from the School of Social Work at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; Michael G. Vaughn of the College for Public Health and Social Justice at Saint Louis University; and Keith E. Whitfield of the Center for Biobehavioral Health Disparities Research at Duke University.
For the study data from the National Survey of American Life was analysed. The statistical data and information of the mental health of Black and non-Hispanic White populations in the United States was got through the survey data.
The survey was conducted on 4,462 African-American and Caribbean Black respondents between 18 and 65 years of age. It was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health.
Clark explained that discrimination is a huge contributing factor toward stress and other mental health-related issues. It causes equal stress as when a person loses a loved one or a job, he stated. He said the study shows that the risk for mental health and behavioral disorders varies according to the types and frequency of discriminatory experiences.
The study looked into the frequency of different types of perceived discrimination. They were asked questions on the frequency by which they were given poorer service or discriminated at restaurants. The study mentioned this as disrespectful discrimination. It went on to ask them of how often they are suppressed and treated as lower individuals by people who think they are much better than them. The study called this, condescending discrimination. The questions also looked into how often they were seen as people with less character, how often they are viewed as dishonest. This is character-based discrimination and the last form of discrimination is hostile discrimination that involved being harassed or beaten.
Nearly half of those surveyed had faced all the types of discrimination. 83 per cent was reported being discriminated in the past year and 14.7 per cent reported having frequent experiences of discrimination of all types. Those who faced discrimination of all types were also seen to have symptoms of mental health problems. The study found that they had symptoms for major depressive disorder, and for alcohol-use and illicit drug-use disorders.
Clark also found that though they reported discrimination, most did not report mental health and substance use disorders that he said “their strength and resilience.”
He said that several factors help protect against the risks of frequent discrimination and this includes ethnic identity, spirituality and religiosity.
The work is published in the journal Addictive Behaviors.
By: Sarah Thomas