Inequity and Mental Health … And What You Can Do to Help
As these two articles highlight, both racial and LGBTQ discrimination have far-reaching negative consequences, including mental illness, but there are very concrete ways to increase acceptance of others and improve the treatment of fellow members of our society.
The LGBTQ communityendures a significant amount of adversity that can compromise the development of mental resilience. This article from NAMI shows that while the LGBTQ community actively seeks support from people who don’t judge their sexual orientation or gender identity, the general population must make changes to be more accepting of all individuals. The article provides next steps on moving toward this vision:
You can help by taking a step back and reflecting. Be open enough to look at your own judgment or criticisms of people with different sexual orientation and gender identity. Then consider how you can best support the LGBTQ community. Try to create, in your community, supportive workplaces, neighborhoods, clubs and organizations that are inclusive of all individuals. Support mental health outlets that help with substance abuse, addictions and mental illnesses. Be a spokesperson in your religious and spiritual community for acceptance, love and support.
The persistent nature of racism results in a continuous presence of physiological and psychological stress responses, which affect the mental health of minorities. This article from The Atlantic illustrates how continuous exposure to stressors impacts learning, coping, and functioning. Emma Adam, Professor of Human Development and Social Policy at Northwestern and the study’s senior author, has some thoughts on helping reduce negative effects of discrimination:
Promoting positive ethnic racial identity would be one way to reduce those feelings of separation or exclusion and improve students’ ability to focus in the classroom. Reducing student exposure to racial discrimination and improving race relations in the U.S. more generally are the ultimate solutions to this, but in the meantime, there are ways to help students deal with the stress.