The prevalence of historical trauma within minority communities has been well documented. When we examine the effects that disparities have had on these communities, we have found that there is a greater incidence of trauma and violence among ethnic minority children and youth and those impacted by poverty. Similarly, underprivileged youth are overrepresented in child welfare and juvenile justice settings, and those same individuals who are often impacted by poverty are less likely to access quality services. Certainly, disparities are closely linked with social or economic disadvantage and with lack of accessible, timely, quality health care. Health disparities adversely affect groups of people who have systematically experienced greater social or economic obstacles to health based on their racial or ethnic group.
Mental Health America describes racism as "the combination of race-based prejudice and power" and notes that racialized trauma can come directly from other people or can be experienced within a wider system. In addition, racialized trauma can come as the result of a direct experience where racism is enacted on you (individual racism) and/or transmitted intergenerationally through larger societal entities (systemic racism). Indeed, the history of racial displacement, exclusion, and segregation has had lasting effects on BIPOC communities, illustrated by the persistent wealth gap between White and African American communities as well as the education gap between financially stable individuals and disadvantaged families.
What can everyone do to address racism and inequality
Addressing or responding to issues of racism and injustice is a complex task that includes changes on individual, community, and societal levels. Nevertheless, there are things that can be done in the effort to ensure that all individuals are treated fairly and that families are given equal access to services and opportunities. For example, making an effort to actively learn about the different groups represented in your organizations, schools, or communities can help to improve your understanding and respect for human diversity and individual differences. Learning more about the structural barriers that are faced in many communities and the disparities that occur with access to services is the first step in ensuring equitable opportunities for all children, youth, and families. It is also important that we continue to give those who are marginalized a voice. This can be done by making a conscious effort to engage and partner with individuals that are truly aware of the needs and challenges facing underserved and minority families.
Preventing and addressing trauma, violence, and discrimination in context
Effective violence prevention efforts take into account the factors that contribute to community violence at the individual, relationship, community and societal levels. These factors, summarized in the image below, may place individuals at increased risk for trauma exposure or oppression. When addressed, they can promote resiliency and support recovery. Within this guide, we have included unique challenges in the community as well as recommendations to address disparities and challenges unique to ethnic minorities and underserved families. Review our section “Challenges and Disparities for Disadvantaged and Minority Populations” to learn more about the racial and ethnic disparities related to rates of trauma and violence exposure, economic hardship, juvenile justice involvement, access to resources, etc.
-click on each tab below to review how caregivers, mental health providers, school staff, and communities can support individuals around issues of race and social justice-
- Mental Health Consequences and Service Utilization
- Addressing Racism and Inequity in School Settings
- What Caregivers and Families Can Do
- Challenges in the Community and Ways to Help
- Challenges and Disparities for Disadvantaged and Minority Populations