Even though the days of slavery are long over, unfortunately, racism did not become a matter of the past. There are still many stereotypes and prejudices around the world that negatively influence innocent lives by implementing a systematic restriction of the rights of people of color. African American women can be considered as one of the most underprivileged groups since, aside from racial discrimination, they can also face inequality because of gender. Such a problem inspired several researchers to conduct a study to discover whether such injustice has an impact on mental health. The study under the name “Neighborhood Racial Discrimination and the Development of Major Depression” by Russell et al. (2018) investigates how neighborhood racial discrimination influences this severe mental disorder among African American Women.
First of all, it would be important to note that this study is longitudinal; it began in 1997 and continues to this day. For this reason, it can be considered a prospective study because it follows a long period. The same participants are being interviewed every 2 or 3 years, which means that data is constantly collected from them as their circumstances change along with characteristics. Although an experimental group is limited to particular women, the trial duration allows researchers to gather a plethora of information, which makes the investigation effective.
Moreover, this study is also correlational since it explores the phenomena of the relationship between two variables, racial inequality and the increase of Major Depression Disorder (MDD) in a specific population group. Participants are 695 women from Georgia and Iowa who did not have experience with Major Depression before the investigation. The researchers decided to select families from different economic levels. However, all participants have several factors in common; they are African American women with 10 to 12-year-old children (Russell et al., 2018). The researchers do not intervene with the lives of those who are involved in the study; they observed their behavior and questioned them.
In addition, the analysts used several characteristics as indicators of the Major Depression Disorder, such as “negative life events, financial strain, personal outlook, religious involvement, relationship quality, negative affectivity, and individual experiences of racism” (Russell et al., 2018, p. 150). All these factors helped them to determine whether African American Women met all the required conditions for this mental health problem during this time. Furthermore, the main reasons behind such conditions were also thoroughly investigated. According to the results, such factors as the cases of neighborhood-level discrimination, personal adverse life events, economic problems, and negative emotions are major contributors to the development of MDD. Therefore, it can be safely assumed that this study mostly addresses etiology, which is a branch of science that is concerned with figuring out the causes of the disease.
The researchers also conducted a diagnostic interview, which was done with the help of computer-assisted personal interviewing. The results indicated that neighborhood-level discrimination certainly affects the mental health of African American women negatively. Exposure to such an experience increases their vulnerability to MDD. Women feel demoralized and insecure; however, strong interpersonal relationships seem to have a positive effect on their condition. Considering the broad range of participants, the chosen study method, and the longitude, this research appears to be carefully made. It can certainly help not only in understanding the roots of the widespread depression among African Americans but also in figuring out ways to help them.
Russell, D. W., Clavél, F. D., Cutrona, C. E., Abraham, W. T., & Burzette, R. G. (2018). Neighborhood racial discrimination and the development of major depression. Journal of abnormal psychology, 127(2), 150-159.