The Link Between Mental Health and Racism

by valerieraiche on October 14, 2015 - 6:39pm

“Racism linked to depression and anxiety in youth”, an article published by the University of Melbourne that was released on September 17th 2013, discusses the link between the development of depression and anxiety in young people having been victims of racism. The main researcher of the study, Dr. Naomi Priest, states that the university’s review showed 461 cases of links between racism and youth health outcomes. According to the researcher, racism is an important factor influencing the wellbeing and mental health of children. The study showed that there was a strong relationship between negative racial comments and harmful health outcomes like low self-esteem and behaviour problems in young people. The study found that the most common types of racism occur in an interpersonal setting, rather than an institutional one. Dr. Priest goes on to explain that racism is an extremely important issue that should be addressed directly in society, schools and communities in order to improve child health. According to the researcher, it is crucial to address racism at a young age, since children with poor health and wellbeing are more likely to be subject to unemployment in the future due to their disengagement in school.

As a professional figure skating coach that has taught children ranging from three years old to sixteen years old, I have encountered youth of many different “races”. I am privileged enough to work in a multi-cultural environment and have been able to observe children of different skin colours interacting with each other. I have seen very few cases of racism on the ice, if any. I believe that the children in my city are lucky enough to have learned the basics of skin colour at a young age.  According to “Children Are Not Colorblind: How Young Children Learn Race”, children recognize race at a very young age and that it is important for caregivers of young children to not shut down race-related conversations. I agree with the advice that this article provides including avoiding the use of vague scolding and discussing the specifics of the issue in a specific way. In response to my chosen article by the University of Melbourne, I believe that the tips given by the reading in class can be applied to suggestions of Dr. Priest as stated previously.


University of Melbourne. Racism linked to depression and anxiety in youth. Melbourne: University of Melbourne, 2013.


I decided to comment on this post, because the title was straightforward and captivating. I was especially convinced since we had just talk about evidence of racism affecting children’s mental health the previous class, which is exactly the subject of this post. Finally, since I work at a summer day camp, I am very interested in racism relating to children, because such situations and outcomes on the youth could happen personally to someone I am taking care of. I agree with this post when she says that children recognize race at an extremely young age, which is why caregivers should promote race-related discussion. I especially think it’s important, not only for caregiver, but also parents to discuss race and racism with their child, particularly based on the subject of this article. Since it talks about the negative outcomes of racism on the youth’s wellbeing and health, it shows the importance of parent’s role in avoiding children to have racial prejudices and stereotypes that develop into racism. As seen in the article “Children Are Not Colorblind: How Young Children Learn Race,” parent’s involvement in stopping the perpetuation of racism is by discussing in honest and meaningful ways about race. Also, I agree with this article’s justification of youth’s racism and the author of this post’s opinion, because they recognizes, as we have learned in class, that children are not colorblind and start making racial categories and judgments. Furthermore, to add to the articles consequences of racism, as seen in class notes, being labeled as inferior can lead to a crisis of identity and the internalization of the identity imposed on them by the dominant group. This crisis can be associated to the mentioned outcomes of the article, such as depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and behavioural problems. In conclusion, you mentioned that you haven’t encountered racism with your ice skating group and belief that it is due to their parents having taught them about “race” at a young, but do you belief it’s the only reason? Finally, how do you think a person in your position, as a teacher and not a parent, should deal with racism if you were to experience such a situation?