Chronic stress can increase the risk of not only physiological issues, but psychological ones, too. The sad truth is that the African American household is far more likely to have conditions that would lead to chronic stress, which means that Black teens in America are at a disproportionate risk.
First of all, chronic stress is a consistent and long-term condition of feeling pressured and overwhelmed. It has symptoms like aches and pains, trouble sleeping, and trouble focusing. And, of course, if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that stress can lead to mental health issues such as new or worsening depression.
As a matter of facts, In 2020, Beth Daley of The Conversation wrote, “Black youth in the U.S.A experience more illness, poverty, and discrimination than their white counterparts.” Despite the higher risk of mental health issues because of this, she says, “Black youth are less likely to seek treatment.” This is definitely worrying.
Black teens live in a society where people expect the worst from them and treat them accordingly. Black children are far more likely to be punished in schools for comparable offences and their punishments are likely to be worse. Even in the home, Black children are more likely to be treated differently by their parents.
Unfortunately, this is the result of trauma from the past against ancestors of these Black families. With all that Black children and teens face. It’s no wonder that they are at a higher risk of stress. So, you’re probably wondering by now what we can do to help. Well, for one thing, we can stop looking down on people with mental health issues.
Chronic Stress in teenagers
Having depression or the like doesn’t make you “crazy.” It just means you need a specific kind of help.
For that matter, we should also stop making people feel ashamed for needing help. Just like somebody with asthma needs to get go to the doctor, somebody with stress-related issues can benefit from going to a mental health professional.
Because of the long history of stigma and discrimination in the United States, many Black people do not trust the healthcare system. So, this next one is for my health professionals: We need to foster an environment where everybody, no matter their social and racial background, feels safe. Easier said than done, but it starts with every single one of us.