How Racism Affects Minority Mental Health


Racism — discrimination directed against someone based on their belonging to a particular racial or ethnic group, especially one that is marginalized — is responsible for adverse effects on the mental health of countless individuals within minority communities. 

Experiencing racism, whether through face-to-face interactions, online comments, direct remarks or offensive media can have a heavy mental and emotional toll.

While racism can lead to a wide variety of mental health issues, this factor can be overlooked by those who haven’t experienced it in the same way that those in a minority demographic do.

In this article, we’re going to take a deeper look into the effects of racism, the lasting effect it can have on people within minority communities and how it can affect mental health on a daily or long-term basis. 

Racism and mental health

Racism can manifest in different ways, and people experience racism on a vast spectrum, but it’s important to recognize that no matter where your experiences fall on the spectrum, it’s not okay and you’re not alone.

The impact of racism on mental health is a complex issue that needs to be addressed. The more we can familiarize ourselves with the effects of racism on mental health, the more steps we can take to help those in need.

Effects of racism on mental health

Racial trauma can lead to many different serious mental health issues, ranging from mild to severe, sometimes even resulting in suicidal or fatal behavior.

Some of the effects of racism on mental health include:

  • Illnesses such as anxiety or depression
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Substance use disorders (such as a drug or alcohol addiction)
  • Behavioral disorders or addictions (such as an eating disorder or gambling)

Experiencing discrimination on a regular basis causes a consistent release of stress hormones which, when they occur often enough, can also lead to chronic physical ailments, such as high blood pressure, heart disease and more.

Ways to manage racial-induced stress

If you’re experiencing extreme stress or adverse symptoms as a result of either covert or blatant racism from other people, you may be tempted to isolate yourself, avoid situations in which you might face prejudice or even turn to substance use. Fortunately, there are healthier ways to cope with and combat the negative effects of race-related stress.

Some of these methods include:

  • Find a mentor who’s gone through this
  • Report racist speech or behavior at work or school
  • Talk about your experiences
  • Connect with others who understand for support
  • Get involved in social action against racism
  • Identify your specific triggers
  • Seek professional help 

You don’t have to shoulder this heavy burden alone. 

While racism-based mental health issues are very legitimate and mental health resources do exist, those in minority communities often experience stigmas around seeking professional help due to cultural expectations or disparities around mental health.

We want you to know that you are respected, welcome and celebrated.

Contact us for personal support

If you find yourself experiencing racism and have realized that it’s impacting your mental health, know that you are not alone. We’re here to help.

Our team at The Light Program has a passion for empowering people through their mental health, because we know how vital it is to a well-rounded, genuinely happy life. Mental health care is essential for not only the sake of emotional and mental stability, but because it impacts every area of your life.

The state of your mental health alone has the power to unravel the very fabric of your life — but it also has the power to help you be who you want and build the life you’ve always dreamed of.

Whenever you’re ready to talk, we’re ready to listen. Submit a form online or give us a call today at 610-644-6464 to get started.