Psychological research has established a strong relationship between perceived experiences with racism and a range of psychiatric and emotional reactions including adjustment, stress reaction, and mood and anxiety problems.
- Racial stress describes chronically high levels of stress faced by members of minoritized groups.
Causes of racial stress include interpersonal experiences of racism, prejudice and discrimination. Typical stress responses include high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, etc. that builds over time; eventually leading to poor mental and physical health.
- Race-based stress and traumatic stress is the consequence of emotional pain that a person may feel after encounters with racism or perceived discrimination.
It is important to understand that you can experience race-related stress even if you were mistaken that a racist act occurred. Race-related stress reactions only require that a person believes that they were the victim of racism.
How a Therapist Can Help
Therapy for racial stress can help address the unique challenges and psychological impact that experiences of racism, discrimination, and prejudice have had on the health and psychological wellbeing.
A mental health professional can also teach coping skills that will help a person manage racial stress including:
- Promoting healing and self-care
- Enhancing adaptive coping and resilience
- Increasing positive racial identity
- Motivating empowerment & community engagement