Within the Black community, we generally acknowledge and discuss experiences of racism and the detrimental impact of racism on equitable access to resources (including education, housing, health care, etc.). We less frequently discuss the detrimental impact racism often has on our mental health. In this article, we draw attention to the link between experiences of racism and mental health, with a specific focus on anxiety disorders and symptoms, which are among the most commonly diagnosed mental health disorders in the United States. We also discuss coping strategies that may be beneficial in the face of experiences of racism. It is important to emphasize that we, as Black Americans, are not at all responsible for the existence or experience of racism and unfairly are burdened with the responsibility of coping with the painful existence of these oppressive experiences.
About the Authors
Dr. Tahirah Abdullah is an Assistant Professor in the Psychology Department at the University of Massachusetts Boston. She completed her M.S. and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at the University of Kentucky, and received a B.A. in Psychology and Africana Studies from the University of Miami. Dr. Abdullah conducts research with the Black Mental Health Advocacy and Research Team on mental health and mental health treatment among Blacks in the US. Specifically, her work is focused on the impact of racism and discrimination on mental health, the relationship between ethnocultural factors and mental health outcomes, barriers to help-seeking for mental health problems, mental illness and mental health treatment stigma, and understanding Blacks' mental health treatment experiences. She aims to use the knowledge gained from her research to improve the quality and accessibility of mental health services and reduce the stigma associated with mental illness and mental health treatment in the Black community.
Dr. Jessica Graham-LoPresti is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at Salem State University. Graham-LoPresti graduated from Williams College with a B.A. in Psychology and American Studies and received her M.A. and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Massachusetts Boston in Boston, MA. Graham-LoPresti received an\ American Psychological Association Minority Fellowship during her pre-doctoral training and completed her pre-doctoral internship training at the VA Boston Healthcare System in Boston, MA. She completed her post-doctoral fellowship in the National Center for PTSD, Women's Health Sciences Division in Boston, MA. Dr. Graham-LoPresti's clinical and research interests include barriers to care for underserved and marginalized populations as well as the impact of racism on stress and anxiety for individuals of color. Dr. Graham-LoPresti serves as the co-chair for the multicultural special interest group through the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.