As society progresses, so too has the conversation on racism and discrimination in our communities. Reports of racial discrimination have become increasingly prominent in both policy and media circles, bringing to light the immense impact racism and discrimination can have on both mental and physical health.
Mental Health Impacts
When people face discrimination due to their race, it can lead to feelings of rejection, anxiety and isolation. This can cause individuals to feel insecure, pessimistic, powerless and disempowered, leading to depression and other mental health issues. Experiences of racism and discrimination can also damage people’s sense of self and sense of belonging, leading to a negative self-image and feelings of worthlessness and inferiority.
Physical Health Impacts
People of color who experience racism and discrimination have been found to have worse physical health outcomes than those who do not. Studies have found that those who experience racism have higher risk factors for heart disease, stress and obesity. Discrimination also has serious long-term effects on overall physical health, leading to higher levels of chronic medical problems such as hypertension, diabetes, and asthma.
Reducing the Impact of Racism and Discrimination on Mental and Physical Health
- Creating Safe Spaces: Creating safe and inclusive spaces that are free of discrimination can reduce feelings of anxiety and isolation, helping to create an environment where people feel accepted and valued.
- Building Positive Communities: Countering racism in our communities starts within ourselves. We can foster positive relationships by engaging in conversations about bias and prejudice. We can also show solidarity with those affected by racism, supporting their mental and physical health.
- Promoting Wellness: Investing in wellness and self-care is key to reducing the harm caused by racism. We can support ourselves and others by practicing strategies such as mindfulness, relaxation breathing and self-reflection.
Racism and discrimination can have serious implications on both mental and physical health. However, with proper interventions and supports in place, it is possible to reduce their adverse impacts and create a society where everyone feels safe and accepted.