A recent research study presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting found that racial discrimination among black teens made them more susceptible to mental health issues included major depression.
The study surveyed 1,170 adolescents between the ages of 13 and 17. Ninety percent of the participants identified themselves as African American, while 10% identified as Afro-Caribbean. This is important because is this is one of the first studies to investigate the mental health differences between individuals that identify as African American and individuals that identify themselves as having Caribbean ancestry instead of lumping together all “blacks” in the same racial group.
The study found that 85% of participants reported haven experienced racial discrimination. Additionally the study found that for both African Americans and Afro-Caribbeans, female, male, and older and younger teens alike; there was an increase likelihood of major depression, anxiety disorder and social phobia during an individual’s lifetime. There was a slightly greater effect on Afro-Caribbean youth who reported experiencing increased levels of racial discrimination compared to African American teens when comparing rates of anxiety.
Dr. Pacther, who presented the research study, stated, “The challenge now is to identify interventions at that individual, family and community level to lessen the mental health effects of racial discrimination while we as a society grapple with ways to eliminate it [racial discrimination] as a toxic stressor.”
Black Girls Smile Thoughts:
Unfortunately, racial discrimination even sexism are not going anywhere. We as a society and even more specifically a “black” society (including African Americans and Afro-Caribbeans) have to work to prepare our youth to mentally take on the discrimination they will inevitably experience. As Dr. Pachter stated, the only way to lessen these negative statistics related to mental health difficulties and discrimination is to address early intervention and support on the individual, family and community level. We have to work to save the mental health of our black youth!