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Racial Trauma

Updated: Aug 7, 2023

What is Racial Trauma?

Racial Trauma Trauma is a term often used by psychologists to describe a response to an accident such as a car crash, natural disasters or rape. Racial trauma is specific to traumatic incidents related to racism and discrimination. Race based trauma can happen on micro or macro scale as its been known that on a micro-aggression scale there are some policies that discriminate against black people, and a micro-aggression scale covers any direct interaction and experience with racism, even down to someone pulling their bag in closer when they walk past a group of black men.

Symptoms of Race Based Trauma

- Intrusive thoughts

- Lowered sense of self worth or esteem

- Heightened feelings of anxiety

- Avoiding situations reminding them of previous experiences with racism

- Distrusting other people due to multiple letdowns in the past

- Triggering feelings when reminded of previous racist interactions which can lead to both emotional and physical reactions

- Extreme paranoia

- Chronic Stress

How racial trauma affects both mental and physical health

Continuous discrimination and racist behaviour can become a form of chronic stress which in turn causes a lot of wear and tear on your body such a heart disease, high blood pressure and strokes. Alongside these physical effects, chronic stress can also worsen and cause other mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and personality disorders. Data has shown that higher levels of perceived racial discrimination among African Americans in the US are linked with poorer health and obesity.

Speak up to eradicate this issue

This ongoing problem must be tackled globally in order to form a permanent solution. Healing can only occur by changing the environment, this means peoples voices who have suffered with racial trauma need to be heard loud and clear in order to challenge policies and practices across the globe. This conversation needs to be one happening in every sector of the world!

Coping with Racial Trauma

If you or someone you know is experiencing racial trauma at the moment try the following to help take care of yourself:

1. Find a safe space and explore your thoughts and feelings! Talk with family, friends and support groups to process your thoughts

2. Check in with yourself and others: Recognise the symptoms of racial trauma as above and check in with yourself and friends and family and take steps to address them if and when they show up. It is important to be knowledgeable of what could happen

3. Seek professional help: Know when you need extra help and take it, there is nothing to be ashamed of for needing someone to help you process your thoughts and feelings, especially id you are experiencing extreme paranoia, chronic stress or feeling lonely having withdrawn from social situations

4. Speak up: The only way this issue will be solved is if everyone stands up together , involve yourself In some activism and speak up for a better future

5. Take some time out and breathe: Try and engage in some calming activities, try out some of these breathing and movement exercises

Heads2Minds offers support to help you overcome and address racial trauma, so please email us at

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