New Study Links Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder To Racism

Report states that African-Americans experience the condition at a higher rate than whites

By Juliana Lucas
A new study has found that racism can cause a person to suffer from post-traumatic stress.

The study, carried out in the US by Dr Monnica Williams, a mental health clinical psychologist and the associate director of the University of Louisville’s Center for Mental Health Disparities, proposes for changes to be made in the criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

DSM-5, a manual published by the American Psychiatric Association is used by psychiatric drug regulation agencies and clinicians around the world to provide a standardised criterion for the classification of mental disorders.

Previously, according to the research: “racism was recognised as a trauma that could potentially cause PTSD, but only in relation to a specific event.”

However, under the new definition, “the requirements for fear, helplessness, and horror have been removed, making room for the more lasting effects of subtle racism to be considered in the discussion of race-based traumas.”

Williams told the Huffington Post: “The problem is these things affect our self-esteem, because when we meet a micro-aggression or some sort of slight or assault, we don’t know if it’s because of our colour, because the attacks are not blatant anymore, or if it’s because of something about us.”

At present, African-Americans experience PTSD at a prevalence rate of 9.1 per cent compared to 6.8 per cent in non-Hispanic Whites.

Researchers found that African-Americans who reported experiences of racial discrimination had higher odds of suffering from generalised anxiety disorder.

It states that “one major factor in understanding PTSD in ethnoracial minorities is the impact of racism on emotional and psychological well-being.”

#RT via via Matthew



Fantastic classes – in depth analysis and information

Where?: London Metropolitan University,
166-220 Holloway Road
N7 8DB
What time?: 5:30 – 7pm
When & What?:
– 5th October 2011: Speaker SUMAN FERNANDO talks about Traditions of mental health and illness: What diversity means.
– 19th October 2011: Speaker SUMAN FERNANDO talks about Critical psychiatry and psychology: cultural psychiatry, anti-racist psychiatry
– 2nd November 2011: Speaker SUMAN FERNANDO talks about Mental health around the globe: Different approaches to developing mental
health in communities and individuals.
– 16th November 2011: Speaker PATRICK VERNON explores whether there is a crisis in Black Mental Health in the UK.
– 30th November 2011: Speaker SUMAN FERNANDO talks about movements to reform psychiatry in UK: How to make effective changes.
– 14th December 2011: Speakers PETER FERNS & PREMILA TRIVEDI discuss service development, training and service user participation.

View the flyer for this event which contains more details CLICK HERE:Master Classes – Mental Health – Race & Culture 2011 London Met

The over-representation of black people among those diagnosed as ‘schizophrenic’ and among people who are sectioned and given compulsory treatment with drugs is well known. This is happening in a context where mental health services in the UK, particularly the way psychiatry is practised, are not satisfying a lot of people, especially those identified as ‘black and minority ethnic’ (BME). In fact, many find the services oppressive, damaging to their personalities and often racist and insensitive to cultural difference. The issues have attracted much attention but little if any progress has been made in tackling them, although there is some understanding of how and why they have arisen and why these problems persist.


– Discuss the cultural diversity of what mental health and illness means
– Consider what is known about how ‘other cultures’ have constructed very different systems to help and support people with personal problems
– Look at what training is needed to improve the systems we have here and how people who use services can work together with providers; and
– Discuss how changes can be achieved.


– Service users
– Practitioners
– Students
– Teachers & lecturers
– Policy-makers

This is a FREE EVENT, but with a ceiling on places so contact Marcy O’Reilly: to get a
confirmation of your place on each date. If you ask for a place and then cannot attend, please notify us immediately so that we can offer it to someone else.