Everyone feels stressed from time to time. But some groups of people experience stress more than others, because of the colour of their skin, the fact that they have two X chromosomes, or something just as arbitrary.
A new survey from the American Psychological Association finds that nearly half of American adults report being treated very unfairly or being severely discriminated against, in everything from their careers to their access to health care.
Black adults were the most likely of any group to report discrimination. Meanwhile, Hispanics were the most likely to report high levels of stress.
But these groups aren’t the only ones facing these problems — and they’re having a big impact on people’s health.
Discrimination is disturbingly common
The APA conducts a survey of “Stress in America” every year; this year’s survey focused on discrimination. A total of 3,361 people in August 2015 filled out the online survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of the APA.
The findings were striking: Nearly seven out of 10 people surveyed said they had experienced some form of discrimination, whether it was due to their race, ethnicity, age, disability, gender or sexual orientation.
“This study has shown us that discrimination knows no boundaries,” James Jackson, a professor of psychology and Afro-American and African Studies at the University of Michigan, said in a press briefing Thursday. Jackson was one of two psychologists who worked on the report.
More than 60% of people reported experiencing day-to-day discrimination, such as being treated disrespectfully or being harassed or threatened.
One race reported worse treatment than any other. More than three out of four Black adults said they experienced day-to-day discrimination, and more than 1 in five Black men said they had been unfairly stopped, searched, questioned, threatened, or abused by police.
Racial minorities, including Black, Asian, Hispanic, and American Indian/Alaska Native people, reported that race was the number-one type of discrimination they faced. By contrast, White people were more likely to report discrimination due to their age.
Many Black and Hispanic adults said they felt like they had to be careful about their appearance in order to experience good service or to avoid being harassed.
Across all groups, the most commonly reported form of discrimination was related to employment — unfairly being fired from jobs, passed over for promotions, or not being hired.
And all this discrimination is taking a toll on people’s health.
All that stress is making us unhealthy
As in previous years, the 2015 survey found that money and work are the two most commonly reported sources of stress. But last year, for the first time, family responsibilities were the third most common source of stress.
Hispanic people reported the highest average levels of stress among those surveyed. In addition, younger generations, women, people with disabilities, and lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender individuals also reported high stress, and were most likely to say their stress had increased in the past year.
And those same groups of people who reported being the most stressed were also more likely to say they couldn’t access the medical care they needed.
But it’s not all bad news.
The majority of people who report experiencing discrimination say they have dealt fairly or very well with it. And if you’re experiencing stress due to unfair treatment, the best way to deal with it, they say, is to have emotional support from others, whether it’s family, friends, coworkers, religious communities, or others.
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