The Long Term Effects of Discrimination on Health

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Though there have been improvements over time, racial minorities in the US continue to face various forms of discrimination. As a result, they can have poorer experiences in their activities or be denied the opportunity to pursue educational or career paths.

Health researchers have also shown that discrimination can negatively affect people’s psychological and physical well-being.

Recently, Shervin Assari, of the University of Michigan, and his colleagues expanded on this understanding by investigating the effects of discrimination later in life.

They collected data from 681 Black youths and continued to do so for 18 years, from 1994 to 2012. All of the participants spent their childhood in economically depressed neighborhoods.

The research team collected data about perceived discrimination, anxiety, and depression. Then, 10 years later, they collected more data, again focusing on participants’ psychological well-being.

The research team was able to account for other factors that might influence the results, such as age, family structure, and their parents’ employment.

Results showed that discrimination negatively affects people’s immediate psychological well-being. This was true for women and men. The long-term effect differed, though. Black men who experienced the mistreatment had a corresponding increase in anxiety and depression later in life. For Black women, discrimination did not influence later mental health.

Results show the importance of discrimination on people’s well-being. Importantly, experiencing discrimination can have lasting, negative effects on one’s psychological health. The authors suggested additional work is needed to identify ways to reduce the harmful effects.