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Racism Could Lead to Depression and Anxiety for Children and Young Adults

Update Date: Sep 17, 2013 03:38 PM EDT

Even though the world has made some progress when it comes to dealing with racism, racism still exists pretty much everywhere in the world. Due to the fact that racism exists, people have learned to handle racist remarks by educating others about equality and not letting hateful words affect their goals. Even though adults can be strong against racism, for young children, racism could be an even bigger monster. In a new study, researchers reported that children and young adults who deal with racism might be at a greater risk of developing depression and anxiety issues.

For this study, the researchers headed by Dr. Naomi Priest at the McCaughey VicHealth Center for Community Wellbeing at the University of Melbourne in Australia, examined the effects of racism on the youth in the community. This review, the first of its kind, found evidence drawn from 461 cases that racist experiences lead to poor mental health, depression and anxiety issues.

"The review showed there are strong and consistent relationships between racial discrimination and a range of detrimental health outcomes such as low self-esteem, reduced resilience, increased behavior problems and lower levels of wellbeing," the international team of authors wrote according to Medical Xpress.

The review looked at all kinds of racism and found that the most common ones occurred between people, categorized as interpersonal experiences. Other types of racism were institutional or systemic. The review focused on studies that were mostly done in the United States on children between the ages of 12 and 18. The ethnic groups that these studies focused on were African American, Latino/a and Asian. Asian encompassed East Asia, south Asia and other Asian.

"We know that children who experience poor health and wellbeing are less likely to engage in education, employment and other activities that support them to lead healthy and productive lives and to participate meaningfully in the community," Priest said.

The researchers believe that more programs need to be created to tackle the issues of racism. Racism in general can be extremely detrimental to people's health. For young people in particular, who do not know how to deal with racism, the effects could be astronomically worse. Schools, communities and families need to find ways of addressing this issue.

The study was conducted with the help of Deakin University and the University College London. The review was published in Social Science & Medicine.

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