Racism is a public health crisis. These were the words of Michelle Williams, dean of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, in an op-ed she co-wrote in early June in response to the death of George Floyd. There are numerous connections between racism and negative health outcomes for Black people. Specifically, research has shown a connection between incidents of police violence and adverse mental health among Black Americans. The study concluded that exposure to police killings of unarmed Black Americans (in the form of word of mouth or news stories in print, radio, television, or social media) resulted in an estimated 55 million poor mental health days every year among Black individuals in the United States.
Racial discrimination has also been linked to allostatic load in Black adults. This is known as the weathering hypothesis, which asserts that Black Americans experience earlier health deterioration “as a consequence of the cumulative impact of repeated experience with social or economic adversity and political marginalization.”
If you’re looking for ways to help, these organizations are working to address mental health and overall wellness in the Black community.