ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – New York State Office of Mental Health shared the mental health effects of racism. When people are exposed to racism on a micro-level and macro-level, the effects can vary.
When people experience racism, that can mean they experience it themselves or watch others experience it. It can also mean that they experience it through the effects of policies, the media, and institutions such as the education system, the justice system, or the financial system.
Someone experiencing racism may feel:
- Sad, depressed, or have suicidal thoughts.
- Anxiety and vigilance, on guard for the next discriminatory experience.
- Internalized racism (believing negative messages about people of color) and decreased self-worth.
- Pessimistic and hopeless about the possibility of change.
- Distress and post-traumatic stress.
- Lack of energy for planning, thinking, and coping.
- Increased likelihood of using alcohol and substances.
The Office of Mental Health describes how experiences of racial discrimination can cause racial trauma. When people encounter racism more often, their symptoms may be more intense.
Racial trauma may include:
- Constantly thinking about and re-experiencing distressing events.
- have anxiety and hypervigilance.
- Suffer from chronic stress.
- Experience physical symptoms like headaches or stomachaches.
- Have difficulties with memory.
- Struggle with sleep or insomnia.
- Avoid people and be less willing to take risks.
The Office of Mental Health has suggestions for those experiencing racism. People who do not acknowledge the racial discrimination that they have experienced are often at higher risk for mental health struggles.