VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA The vast majority of African-American and Afro-Caribbean youth face racial discrimination, and these experiences are associated with an increased risk of mental health problems, according to a study to be presented Saturday, May 3, at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
"Sixty years after Brown vs. Board of Education, racism remains a toxic stressor commonly experienced by youth of color," said lead author Lee M. Pachter, D.O., FAAP. "The fact that these experiences are encountered during adolescence a critically sensitive period for identity development is of great concern, as is our finding of slightly higher rates of depression, anxiety and social phobias in those youth who have more experiences with discrimination."
The researchers analyzed data from the National Survey of American Life, which examines racial, ethnic and cultural influences on the mental health of African-Americans and Afro-Caribbeans (blacks living in the United States who are of Caribbean descent). Interviews were conducted with a nationally representative sample of 1,170 adolescents (1,017 African-Americans and 137 Afro-Caribbeans) ages 13-17 years.
"Our study looked at the relationships between perceived racial discrimination (racism) and various mental health issues. We wanted to see if African-American and Afro-Caribbean teenagers who experienced racial discrimination have higher rates of depression, anxiety or social phobia," said Dr. Pachter, professor of pediatrics at Drexel University College of Medicine and chief of general pediatrics at St. Christopher's Hospital for Children in Philadelphia.
This is one of the few studies that look at experiences of black youth of Caribbean ancestry and ethnicity separate from African-American youth, Dr. Pachter noted. Because of differences in culture, pre- and post-immigration experiences, and other factors, it is imp
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American Academy of Pediatrics