“Young people who experienced discrimination increase the risk of mental illness by 25%”

Young adults who experience discrimination on the basis of body, race, age or gender are at greater risk of dealing with mental health issues than adults who do not, a new study finds. CNN reported on the same day based on the research results of Professor Adam Sikedantz’s research team at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Geffen School of Medicine, which was published in the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Pediatric Journal on the 8th (local time). .

Previous research has shown that experiences of discrimination, such as racism, reduce quality of life by affecting stress, cognitive decline, anxiety, depression, and drug use. The study found that people who experienced regular discrimination a couple of times a month or more were about 25 percent more likely to be diagnosed with a mental illness and twice as likely to experience severe psychological distress than those who did not experience or less experienced discrimination.

Participants’ responses showed that experiencing more than a certain level of discrimination was associated with a 26% higher risk of poor overall health. Frequent experiences of discrimination were not strongly associated with binge drinking, but were associated with the use of drugs such as amphetamines (stimulants), marijuana, tranquilizers, barbiturates (sedatives), and cocaine.

The researchers analyzed 10-year data from 1843 Americans aged 18 in 2007 to 28 in 2017 reporting details of their mental and behavioral health and discrimination. Discrimination is defined here as “actions by an individual member of one group to have a detrimental effect on members of another group”. It is distinct from institutional and structural discrimination that influences and reinforces discrimination between people, the researchers defined.

Participants were asked how often they were treated with less courtesy, poor service, or whether they were treated as foolish, frightening, dishonest or inferior. They also asked if they believed their ancestry, race, ethnicity, gender, age, height, weight, or other physical aspect was the main reason for their experiences of discrimination.

About 93% of the participants reported that they experienced discrimination at varying times during the 10-year study period. The researchers found that this included between 91 and 94 percent of each category of adults (white, black, Hispanic or Latino, Asian, Native Hawaiian, American Indian, Alaska Native and other Native Americans). Age discrimination was the highest reason for discrimination, followed by appearance, sexism, and racism.

This study is the first to focus on the transition from teens to adulthood, the authors stress. “Since 75% of all lifetime mental health disorders appear before the age of 24, the transition to adulthood is an important time to prevent mental and behavioral health problems,” said UCLA medical student Yvonne Ray, first author of the paper.

The researchers found that discrimination leading to health deterioration could be explained by a stress response to mistreatment. A separate 2020 study found that black women who often experienced racism had a 2.75 times higher risk of subjective cognitive decline compared to women with less experience of discrimination. Cognitive function is a person’s mental ability to learn, think, reason, problem-solve, make decisions, remember, and pay attention.

The study was inspired by psychologist John Duffy, who has done research on the greater sensitivity of teenagers to adulthood discrimination. “Young people aged 18-21 feel like they’ve learned a lot and have access to far more data and information than previous generations, so they’re sensitive to the disrespect or disregard for their thoughts and ideas,” Duffy said. .

The original text of the paper can be found at the following Internet address ( https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2021/11/05/peds.2021-051378 ).

By Han Gun-pil, reporter [email protected]

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