The trauma of racism: Study published in The Lancet identifies link between police violence and community mental health for African Americans in the U.S.


A recent study published in The Lancet and funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and National Institutes for Health, revealed that:

"Police kill more than 300 black Americans—at least a quarter of them unarmed—each year in the USA. These events might have spillover effects on the mental health of people not directly affected. ...

Police killings of unarmed black Americans have adverse effects on mental health among black American adults in the general population. Programmes should be implemented to decrease the frequency of police killings and to mitigate adverse mental health effects within communities when such killings do occur."

The study is further described, along with expert commentary, in this New York Times story

"Activists for racial justice have long expressed concern that the rash of headline-grabbing police killings of black Americans was damaging the mental well-being of African-American communities. A report published in The Lancet, a leading British medical journal, on Thursday appears to give credence to those concerns. ...

“‘Having seen something so horrific and traumatic that happened to someone else, I’m reminded in a very painful and salient way that the deck might be stacked against me,’” Atheendar S. Venkataramani, one of the study’s authors, said of how black people might perceive police killings. “It’s really about all the kinds of insidious ways that structural racism can make people sick.”

Dr. Rhea Boyd, who writes a blog post on public health, and was interviewed by The Lancet podcast regarding this study, created a short twitter thread to help explain the scientific implications of the study.

Dr. Boyd writes: "The magnitude of the mental health impairment black Americans experienced from police killing other unarmed black Americans was almost as big as the impairment associated with DIABETES".

For more of Dr. Boy'd Twitter thread, click here. See also Dr. Boyd's published two page comment on the study, here

Note:If you would like to download the full study or the published comment, Lancet articles can be downloaded for free after registering on their site. 

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