Isn't it true that where we live has a huge influence on our health and life expectancy? Although the concept is not new, a recent study argues that another factor should be considered as well. It found that living in proximity to xenophobic individuals can be detrimental to one's health.
Poor mental health and heart disease
The study, which was published in the Health Psychology journal, is based on a massive amount of data gathered primarily from Google and Twitter. What is the goal? To draw a link between areas where racism is expressed and places where people's health is deteriorating.
Individuals' mental and physical health were included in the study (heart health, mortality, etc.) and according to the researchers, the correlation does exist. People who are subjected to racism (mostly ethnic minorities, but also white people) are believed to have poorer health conditions than others.
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The stress involved
But what may be the source of this disparity? There are various causes for this, but the first is the tension brought on by prejudices. This stress would lead to a cascade of issues which would be damaging to one's heart and mental health.
Furthermore, a neighbourhood tainted by racism, in which residents despise one another, does not foster a healthy environment. For example, in an unhealthy environment, residents do not support one another, inform one another about health issues, and encourage one another to seek professional help if necessary.
In other words, racism affects a person physically and mentally. The lead author of the study concludes:
Racism is gaining recognition as a fundamental driver of health inequities.