Anxiety Regarding Racial Issues in the United States

The United States remains one of the most diverse countries on earth. Despite this diversity, there have always been issues surrounding racism and inequality. Although many assumed that racism has reduced in recent years (i.e. when Obama was elected), recent events have highlighted the issues that People of Color continue to face in the United States. Racial issues, rather than being glossed over, are now main topics of conversations and debates, both political and otherwise.

 

Anxiety and Racial Disadvantage During the COVID-19 Pandemic

As the coronavirus ravaged countries and brought the whole world to a screeching halt, America registered a 300% rise in reported anxiety cases between February and April. The pall of grief and financial uncertainty coupled with the agony of social isolation raised stress levels and increased depressive symptoms.

It is important to note that while there was a general rise in anxiety levels, some ethnicities recorded higher numbers than others, most notably Black Americans.

Why?

  • When it comes to employment and the economy, minority communities continue to be at a disadvantage. People of color are more likely to suffer layoffs due to the economic downturn.
  • Research and available data show that a significant number of Black Americans have limited access to proper physical and mental healthcare. And so, the number of anxiety cases keep rising without proper treatment.
  • Therapists and health providers need to focus on providing culturally appropriate services for Black Americans. When treatment is not culturally responsive, People of Color are more likely to suffer anxiety and depressive symptoms over a prolonged period.

Racism and Social Unrest Spike Anxiety Levels Even Higher

On May 26, videos of the brutal death of George Floyd, a Black American, at the hands of a white cop went viral on social media platforms. It sparked outrage – and more devastatingly, fear – in the hearts of individuals in the Black community. Shortly after, the Census Bureau recorded an alarming spike in the anxiety levels of Black Americans. Understandably, people of color became increasingly stressed and scared.

  • People of Color are not treated fairly by law enforcement agencies that are supposed to protect them and their rights.
  • A recent study of Black Americans provided evidence that witnessing a racial-based murder of someone from the community is a harrowing and traumatizing experience for all members of that community.
  • The general unrest in the nation evidenced by mass protests and demonstrations also affects the mental health of the community. Although there is variability in how People of Color are feeling, many are afraid, worried, and edgy.

Notice the Pattern

On closer observation of our history as a country, a worrying pattern becomes glaring. There is a direct relationship between a national crisis or event and racial attacks.

Take 9/11 for example. After the tragic attacks, there was a severe racial backlash against Middle Eastern communities and immigrants. Reports show that the anxiety levels of such communities at that time were very high due to the racism faced.

Once the nation as a whole is focused on a particular race or community due to an event that has occurred, racial violence and attacks on that community start occurring frequently. This forces even more attention on individuals from a particular race and leads to additional stress and anxiety for members of that community.

What Can Be Done?

The fight against racism is an ongoing one. And while the Black Lives Matter movement is a step in the right direction, other important measures must also be taken. Advocating for social changes can be exhausting, be sure to keep these few things in mind to help take care of yourself:

  • Join support groups that help you deal with racial issues and heal from race-based trauma.
  • Surround yourself with people who support you
  • Never hesitate to seek help

For support surrounding racial and cultural issues, contact New Connections Counseling Center!

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