The Link Between Experiences of Racism and Stress and Anxiety for Black Americans

Article The Link Between Experiences of Racism and Stress and Anxiety for Black Americans

A Mindfulness and Acceptance-Based Coping Approach,




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Many people consider racism primarily as social injustice. Yet victims of racism don’t suffer only from unequal access to resources and blatant discrimination. Many also internalize their negative external experiences and develop anxiety disorders as a result. This blog post shines some light on this often-neglected aspect of racism. It describes the link between racist experiences and mental health issues, and provides coping strategies. You’ll benefit from the advice whether you are a victim of racism or want to offer support to someone who is.


Experiences of racism have a significant impact on the mental health of black Americans.

Studies suggest a direct link between experiences of racism – such as frequent but subtle “microaggressions” as well as overt discrimination – and mental health problems, including anxiety and stress. Some 25% of black Americans will develop an anxiety disorder over their lifetimes. What’s more, black Americans suffering from anxiety take longer to recover from the condition, and are less likely to seek or complete mental health treatments in comparison with the general population.

Racism can trigger anxiety in a victim through “perceptions of lack of control,” “internalization” and “avoidance of valued action.”

Racism negatively affects black Americans...

About the Authors

Jessica Graham-LoPresti is an assistant professor in the department of psychology at Salem State University. Tahirah Abdullah is an assistant professor in the psychology department at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Amber Calloway is a doctoral candidate at the University of Massachusetts Boston’s clinical psychology program. Lindsey West is an assistant professor in the department of psychiatry and health behavior at the Medical College of Georgia, Augusta University.

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