By Kristen Sohlman, HBA, RP
What is Discrimination?
Discrimination occurs when an individual or a group of people are unfairly judged based upon race, gender, age, sexual orientation, etc. Many individuals have experienced some form of discrimination throughout their lives, while others are targeted specifically based upon these characteristics.
Discrimination, big and small
Discrimination can occur on a continuum, meaning that there are varying levels of discrimination. This can range from ignorance, a lack of knowledge or a lack of information, to being a target of overt acts of bias such as racism. While there are laws that protect people from discrimination such as the Canadian Human Rights Act, Employment Act, the National Housing Act, etc., unfortunately discrimination still occurs. Less obvious examples of discrimination can also occur on a daily basis such as receiving poor customer service, being treated disrespectfully, microaggressions such as negative comments, insults, snubs, etc.
The impacts upon health
Those that experience discrimination in their lives have been found to have higher stress levels, which can lead to chronic stress if experienced over a long period of time. Chronic stress has impacts upon both physical and mental health, including anxiety, depression, obesity, high blood pressure, and substance abuse. Some individuals are more often the target of discrimination, especially those that identify as being a minority group within their community. Such individuals might avoid situations where they might expect to be treated poorly by others, sometimes resulting in missed school or work. Living with this anticipated discrimination can even create its own chronic stress.
Healing from discrimination:
American Psychological Association. (2018). Discrimination: What it is, and how to cope. [Web page] Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/discrimination.aspx
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