Trauma, Racism, Chronic Stress and the Health of Black Americans

Office of Behavioral Health Equity, June 3, 2020

Summary Findings: racism and associated trauma and violence contribute to mental health disorders, particularly depressions, anxiety and PTSD, and chronic health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, maternal mortality/infant mortality and morbidity in African Americans. Racism is considered a fundamental cause of adverse health outcomes for racial/ethnic minorities and racial/ethnic inequities in health. The primary domains of racism – structural/institutional racism, cultural racism, and individual-level discrimination – are linked to mental and physical health outcomes. Racism and violence targeting a specific community is increasingly associated with complex trauma and inter-generational trauma, all of which have physical and behavioral health consequences.

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