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Casual police cases are damaging the mental health of black Americans

Casual police cases are damaging the mental health of black Americans

By Amy Norton
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, April 20, 2021 (HealthDay News) – America awaits trial of Derek Chauvin trial, new investigation finds black police officers killed by black police mental health toll on psyches across the country.

The researchers found that, on average, black Americans reported worsening “poor mental health status” in the weeks leading up to more than one fatal racial incident in the news.

These incidents included hate crimes, but for the most part were black people not being convicted of police killings or an officer involved or making legal decisions.

In contrast, the study found no change in the mental health of white Americans in those weeks.

The findings may be intuitive, said lead researcher David Stuart Curtis, an assistant professor at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.

“On the one hand,” yes, of course, “it feels like a discovery,” he said.

However, Curtis added that the challenge is to get good data on how people behave in their minds before and after such events.


And, he noted, most of the study participants did not report any poor mental health days at the time of the survey.

However, on average, black Americans showed an increase that was consistent with the racial incidents that sparked national attention.

“We need to know that these incidents can have an impact on the population,” Curtis said.

There are many possible reasons, according to Curtis. For some people, the news events may be reminiscent of the racial traumas they or their families have experienced, he said. For others they may turn out to be “communal” mine and mourning. “

According to Curtis, especially in cases where the legal system does not take action against the agents involved, feelings of injustice can affect mental health.

The findings – were released on April 19th Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences – come the nation awaiting sentencing Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, on trial for the death of George Floyden.

The study period ran from 2012 to 2017 – in May 2020, US protests spread before Floyd’s death. During the period, the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner in Ferguson, Mo and New York City, among others, were the dead in 2014, as well as the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement.


Curtis ’team measured the mental health assessments of Americans with data from a federal health survey that interviews more than 400,000 U.S. adults each year.

One question was how many days he had to calculate people’s mental health was “not good” in the last month.

According to the study, on average, black Americans with 0.26 mental health problems over the weeks were two or more races internationally.

People can have a variety of responses to the “unique experience of racism,” said assistant professor Ryan DeLapp psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.

Starting with the feeling of embarrassment anxiety angrily, according to DeLapp, who did not participate in the new investigation.

The study did not measure clinical mental health diagnoses. DeLapp says there is a growing recognition that exposure to racism can lead to symptoms similar to post-trauma stress imbalance (PTSD) in some people.


Conversations about racism and racial trauma can be uncomfortable, even for mental health professionals, DeLapp said. Some standard questionnaires about racial stress are available, and it is recommended that therapies be given to new patients as part of a standard “intake” assessment.

They can then inform patients that an interview can take place if they wish. “Thus, [patients] they are under control, ”DeLapp said.

Outside of therapy, people can protect themselves against racial stress, which is what many do in the face of chronic stress, DeLapp noted. He finds ways to confront and resist people, often based on community.

DeLapp suggested that when it comes to social media – and in the face of news and images of racial violence – people spend enough time offline. He said this could allow him to process his feelings, as well as “connect him to other things that reaffirm your value as a person.”

But ultimately, DeLapp said, work must fall into systems where racism is embedded.

“The task should not be in the hands of individuals,” he said.

More information


Mental Health America has more racial trauma.

SOURCES: Dr. David Stuart Curtis, Assistant Professor, Family and Consumer Studies, University of Utah, Salt Lake City; Ryan CT DeLapp, PhD, assistant professor, psychiatry and behavioral sciences, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York City; Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences online, April 19, 2021

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