Links between racism and depression, anxiety in young people

young woman

Children and young people often experience depression, anxiety and poor mental health following experiences of racism.

An international review led by the University of Melbourne showed 461 cases of links between racism and child and youth health outcomes. The review demonstrates racism as an important factor influencing the health and well-being of children and youth.

Strong and consistent relationships

“The review showed there are strong and consistent relationships between racial discrimination and a range of detrimental health outcomes such as low self-esteem, reduced resilience, increased behavior problems and lower levels of well-being,” explained lead researcher Dr. Naomi Priest at the McCaughey VicHealth Centre for Community Wellbeing at the University of Melbourne.

The study reviewed cases of racism involving young people up to age 18. The three most common ethnic groups in the study were African American, Latino and Asian. Asian included East Asian, South Asian and other Asian ethnicities.

Interpersonal racism most common

Interpersonal experiences of racism, which occurs between people rather than institutions or systems, was the most common type of racism the study investigated. They found relationships between racism and behavior problems, pregnancy and birth outcomes. Children whose mothers experienced racism during pregnancy were more likely to have poorer birth outcomes.

“We know that children who experience poor health and well-being are less likely to engage in education, employment and other activities that support them to lead healthy and productive lives and to participate meaningfully in the community,” Dr. Priest said. This was identified as the most important issue that needs to be addressed in society, schools and communities to improve child and youth health.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, University of Melbourne


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