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J Health Soc Behav. 2018 Dec;59(4):466-485. doi: 10.1177/0022146518814251.

Stress and the Mental Health of Populations of Color: Advancing Our Understanding of Race-related Stressors.

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1 Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA.
2 Department of African and African American Studies and of Sociology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA.
3 Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa.


This article provides an overview of research on race-related stressors that can affect the mental health of socially disadvantaged racial and ethnic populations. It begins by reviewing the research on self-reported discrimination and mental health. Although discrimination is the most studied aspect of racism, racism can also affect mental health through structural/institutional mechanisms and racism that is deeply embedded in the larger culture. Key priorities for research include more systematic attention to stress proliferation processes due to institutional racism, the assessment of stressful experiences linked to natural or manmade environmental crises, documenting and understanding the health effects of hostility against immigrants and people of color, cataloguing and quantifying protective resources, and enhancing our understanding of the complex association between physical and mental health.


mental disorders; mental health; race; racial discrimination; racism; stress


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