“Racism is a public health crisis,” according to a May 2020 statement from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). This means that racism — whether unintentional, unconsciously, or concealed — has affected Black Americans’ access to equal and “culturally competent” health care.
Employees of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sent a letter to their director alleging “widespread acts of racism and discrimination within CDC that are, in fact, undermining the agency’s core mission” that may have indirectly contributed to that disparity.
Just as some medical facilities have been overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases, increased anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) — in people who are worried they might catch the virus or have been impacted by the lockdown and social isolation needed to control the pandemic — may, in turn, overwhelm the mental health system.
Racism is also a stressor for mental health problems.