Race, Ethnicity & Culture Issues

Updated: July 23, 2022

Scientists agree there is one human-race and that the concept of ‘race’ is a politically and socially motivated construct with no biological basis, designed to maintain structural inequities and discrimination.  This impacts individuals and can lead to mental health problems, and worse.

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What Are Race, Ethnicity & Culture Issues?

Stephen Lawrence.  George Floyd.  Kalief Browder.  May they all rest in peace.  These individuals, and countless others have been murdered (directly and indirectly) because of inequalities and hate based violence.  Granted, these are the more extreme cases, but individuals who are considered to be ethnic minorities are at greater risk of poverty and homelessness due to socio-economic disadvantage and racism.  People face all kinds of discrimination, such as racial profiling, and lack of access to education, jobs, and housing, which impact life opportunities and prospects.


For others, problems may arise within families who are impacted by migration, because of the cultural clashes between different generations in a family.  Any of these issues alone can contribute to mental health problems, sometimes leading to  substance misuse, depression, anxiety, trauma, psychosis, and higher rates of suicide.  Worse still, even when ethnic ‘minority’ individuals access mental health services, they are often misunderstood, misdiagnosed, and simply do not receive an adequate level of care.  All manner of issues might arise, and all require and deserve sensitive, thoughtful, nuanced, honest, and courageous care.

What Are The Symptoms?

Depression & Anxiety

Marginalised people are at higher risk of developing mental health problems like depression and anxiety, including social anxiety.

Low Worth & Shame

When people are continually given messages directly and indirectly that something about their very core and nature, their identity, is unacceptable and rejected, they can start to internalise these messages.  This begins to create feelings of low worth and shame that can make it difficult for individuals to draw on their strength and defend themselves, as they too start to believe the narrative.

Mental Symptoms

Anger can impact your mind in many ways.  People can feel tension in the head, nervousness, irritability, guilt, humiliation, resentment, or a ‘red mist’ coming down on them, and therefore the inability to relax.

Racial Battle Fatigue

The term ‘Racial Battle Fatigue’ was coined to describe the psychosocial stress responses that are experienced by individuals of ethnically oppressed and discriminated groups.  The impact can be psychological, for example, depression, anxiety, shock, and anger.  It can be physiological, such as headaches, or tense muscles.  And it can even lead to long term health problems like high blood pressure, for example.

Relationship Problems

Individuals may feel unable to talk to those around them, due to feeling stigmatised, and a fear of being judged, or rejected.  This can cause some people to withdraw and isolate themselves.

Rumination & Suicidal Ideation

Depression can make people experience negative thoughts and dwell on them, making them feel worse.  In some cases, people can start to experience thoughts of self-harm and of being better off dead, they may want to end their life due to life feeling too hard to live, and feelings of hopelessness.


Due to the impact on mood, and feelings of vulnerability, people often do not feel like socialising with family and friends, and may therefore withdraw from them, further impacting low mood.

Stress Becomes Normal

You might find yourself experiencing a perpetual state of stress anxiety, such that it becomes your normal state.  Others will often notice this about you and may perceive you as a generally stressed or anxious person.

Substance Misuse

Due to the difficulties both externally in the world (for example, lack of opportunity, employment, profiling, bullying, etc), and the impact of this internally, on the psyche, it is no surprise that some people may turn to substances to help them cope.


Individuals who experience discrimination, lack of access to services, continuous disadvantage in all kinds of life areas, overt bullying, and hear about racially charged murders cannot experience these without being impacted on a deep subconscious level.  They may experience acute trauma, or an insidious and slow-developing trauma.

What Are The Causes?

Individuals from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities are impacted by the same kinds of issues as anyone else.  However, they can also face racism, discrimination, inequality, and mental health stigma.

Racism ranges from micro-aggressions (subtle but offensive remarks) to blatantly offensive words, to verbal or physical aggression.  These kinds of experiences are often very stressful and harmful for overall health and mental health, increasing the risk of of depression, and even psychosis.

The discrimination people from BAME communities face relates to social and economic inequalities and disadvantages as a result of their difference.  This can place them at more risk of experiencing difficulties with school and education, employment, law enforcement, access to public services, and even poverty and homelessness.  The impact of any one of these can lead to mental ill-health.

Mental health stigma from within and without the BAME community can mean individuals suffer with the difficulties they are faced with, without the adequate mental health support.  Different communities and cultures view mental health in different ways, so in some cultures, it may be seen as embarrassing and shameful, and therefore go unacknowledged due to the stigma attached.  Even when access to support is taken, public services can fall short.  Often individuals from BAME communities are misunderstood and  misdiagnosed, so do not receive the right support, worsening the situation.

How Phinity Therapy Can Help

At Phinity therapy, we have extensive experience with individuals from a diverse range of ethnic origins, cultures, and walks of life.  We pride ourselves on being sensitive to the therapeutic needs of all our clients, no matter how nuanced they may be.

We offer tailored, culturally and ethnically sensitive support, which aims to learn and understand about your world view.  This is so we can facilitate open exploration of difficult experiences and their impact, including feelings of anger, rage, frustration, shame, and anything in between, to help clients process these whilst being valued, validated, and upheld.

We want you to know that your therapist is accepting of the whole of you.  Even though all of our therapists are more than capable, if you would feel more comfortable with a therapist of a particular demographic, please feel free to discuss this with us.  We will do our best to meet your needs because ultimately, your needs are what we care about, and prioritise.

What Are The Causes? How Phinity Therapy Can Help


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