young Black girl
(Africa Studio/Shutterstock)

New UCLA Study Links Racism Experienced Early in Life With Future Mental Health Issues and Stress

A new study has found a link between racism and discrimination experienced in early adulthood and mental health problems that develop later in life, suggesting the two may be very closely related. Even more disturbing: the impact of racism appears to be cumulative, with young adults experiencing the greatest levels of discrimination more likely to face future mental health problems.

NPR’s Joe Hernandez reported that “the UCLA study, published in the journal Pediatrics, looked at health data for 1,834 Americans who were between the ages of 18 and 28 when the study started. The authors said it was the first time researchers had probed the effects of discrimination on the same group of young people during their transition to adulthood.”

In a statement, Yvonne Lei, a medical student at the David Geffen School of Medicine and co-author of the study, said, “with 75% of all lifetime mental health disorders presenting by age 24, the transition to adulthood is a crucial time to prevent mental and behavioral health problems.”

The UCLA research also suggested that “people who faced any discrimination had a 26% greater risk of poor health than those who said they hadn’t faced any.”

The report also revealed that young people experiencing frequent discrimination (categorized as racism occurring at least several times per month) were approximately 25% more likely to be diagnosed with mental health issues later in life and twice as likely to develop severe psychological stress compared to those who experienced little or no discrimination on a regular basis.

Dr. Adam Schickedanz, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the Geffen School of Medicine and the study’s senior author, elaborated on the findings, saying, “the associations we found are likely also intertwined with mental health care service disparities — including inequities in care access, provider biases and structural and institutional discrimination in health care — leading to inequities in diagnoses, treatment and outcomes.”

The UCLA research was based on data extracted from the University of Michigan’s Transition to Adulthood Supplement of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics survey, the world’s longest-running nationally representative panel survey of racism and discrimination in America. That study began in 1968 and has involved reoccurring interviews and surveys of more than 18,000 individuals from more than 5,000 families across the nation. 

Throughout the 50-year study, researchers have found that more than 93% of the people of color involved in the study have experienced at least some form of discrimination over the course of their life. 


Related: For more recent diversity and inclusion news, click here.


Latest News

Toyota Earns the Most R&D Patents Among Automakers in IPO Rankings for 8th Consecutive Year

Originally published at Toyota ranked No. 7 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021.   The United States Patent and Trademark Office awarded Toyota more patents than any other automaker in 2021, according to an annual ranking by the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO). Toyota’s engineers…

Wells Fargo Announces New Initiative To Help Customers Avoid Overdraft Fees and Meet Short-Term Cash Needs

Originally published at Wells Fargo ranked No. 25 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021.   Wells Fargo announced new efforts to limit overdraft-related fees and give customers more flexible options to meet their personal financial needs. These offerings, which include earlier access to direct deposits,…

multi race business woman

New Report Shows Significant Increase in Female and Black Representation in the Executive Boardroom

Diversity and inclusion appear to be successfully increasing among America’s largest and most successful companies. The finding comes from a new report conducted by executive recruiting firm Crist Kolder Associates as part of its review of DEI representation in executive offices. Ariel Zilber of the New York Post reported that…

Taco Bell

Taco Bell Creates Business School To Help Underrepresented Groups Become Franchise Owners

Taco Bell and the popular fast-food chain’s owner Yum! Brands have entered the DEI arena with a new business school designed to help people of all backgrounds — and people of color in particular — advance into restaurant ownership. Jonathan Maze of Restaurant Business reported that “a select group of…