Discrimination based on race or ethnicity can take a toll on a person’s mental and physical well-being. It can induce a feeling of estrangement and lower self-esteem.
Acceptance by people and their positive reaction to a person ensures sound psychological and physical health. When a person feels rejected or unaccepted, they are more likely to develop a negative perception of themselves.
Racism can give rise to mental health issues such as-
People of color might even find it difficult to get access to necessary mental health care as there is very little representation of minorities in the system itself. For someone who isn’t familiar with the trauma of facing racism, medical professionals can sometimes fail to provide the right treatment.
The distress caused by racial violence
During the incidents of racial violence, the people of the community feel fearful and threatened. They are afraid to go out in public due to the fear of getting a lot of attention. These incidents severely amplify mental health issues and create distress among the collective community.
Racism doesn’t only create disparities but also adversely affects the mental well-being of people.
The murder of George Floyd, an African-American created a long-lasting trauma in people’s minds. George was brutally killed by a police officer on the grounds of suspecting him of using a counterfeit $20 bill. The videos of the killing were all over the internet and the trauma that black people went through was unimaginably horrific. It was one of the high-profile cases that caught the attention of the public regarding police brutality against black Americans. Such killings not only disturb people’s minds but the overall peace of the nation. According to researchers, there are comparatively more mental health problems reported when such racial violence takes place.
Racism is not just a social justice issue but a global problem that needs immediate address racism exists everywhere from workplaces to societies, making the lives of people harder due to the discrimination they face daily.
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How to cope with racial trauma
Talk about it with someone who understands
Try to talk about your experience or what you’re going through with family/friends who understand your situation and can provide support.
Find a role model you can look up to
Finding a mentor can help you cope with your emotional and mental distress better although seeking help from a good therapist can be a better way.
Try to take control of the situation
Although racism never comes with a warning sign, you can practice how to deal calmly with the situation. If you find that there are certain things like online media or news that trigger your trauma then take a break from it and try to surround yourself with people who uplift you. Take part in activities that intend to end racism.
Know that it’s never your fault
If you face racism in school, the workplace, or in public, understand that it’s not your or your community’s fault.
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Racism can have short and long-term effects on the mental health of the person who faces it. It can cause havoc in the life of the people who become victims of racial violence. It can trigger societal thoughts amongst people who face discrimination or rejection based on their ethnicity or color.
The best way to cope with it once you start feeling comfortable and confident in your skin is by confronting, asking questions, correcting the person doing it, and educating them on how their racist behavior can harm a person.