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Nancy Schimelpfening

Black Men More Likely to Become Depressed If They Hide Their Feelings About Racism

By March 27, 2012

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African-American men who feel they must suppress their feelings about racism are at greater risk of becoming depressed, according to a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researcher.

For her study, Dr. Wizdom Powell Hammond, assistant professor of health behavior in UNC's Gilllings School of Global Public Health, studied data collected from surveys of 674 African-American men, aged 18 and older, carried out in barber shops in four U.S. regions between 2003 and 2010.

After analyzing the data, Hammond found that racial discrimination was associated with depression across all age groups, however, men under 40 were more depressed, had experienced more discrimination and were more likely to hold the attitude that they should "take it like a man" and control their emotions.

She also found that the more strongly the men felt the need to suppress their negative feelings about racism, the more their mental health was affected.  And, this link was especially strong in men over the age of 30.

"The slings and arrows of everyday racism still exist," noted Hammond, "and we need to find targeted ways to help men defend against them while also working to address the policy structures that project them."

The study was published online in the American Journal of Public Health.

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