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Racism, mental illness and social support in the UK

Abstract

Purpose

The difference in risk of mental illness in UK ethnic minorities may be related to a balance between specific risk factors such as racial discrimination and mediating factors such as social support. We investigated whether social support from friends or relatives reduces the cross-sectional association between perceived racism and the risk of mental illness in an ethnic minority group.

Methods

We conducted secondary analyses of nationally representative community samples of five UK ethnic minority groups (EMPIRIC dataset; n = 4,281) using multiple regression techniques.

Results

We found that the associations between perceived racism, common mental disorder and potentially psychotic symptoms were mainly independent of social support as measured by the number of close persons and their proximity to the individual.

Conclusion

Social support when measured in this way does not mediate the associations between perceived racism and mental ill health in this population-based sample.

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Correspondence to Apu T. Chakraborty.

Appendix

Appendix

Psychosis screening questionnaire: [1]

  1. 1.

    Over the past year, have there been times when you felt very happy indeed without a break for days on end?

    1. a.

      Was there an obvious reason for this?

    2. b.

      Did your relatives or friends think is was strange or complain about it?

  2. 2.

    Over the past year, have you ever felt that your thoughts were directly interfered with or controlled by some outside force or person?

    1. a.

      Did this come about in a way that many people would find hard to believe, for instance, through telepathy?

  3. 3.

    Over the past year, have there been times when you felt that people were against you?

    1. a.

      Have there been times when you felt that people were deliberately acting to harm you or your interests?

    2. b.

      Have there been times when you felt that a group of people were plotting to cause you some serious harm or injury?

  4. 4.

    Over the past year, have there been times when you felt that something strange was going on?

    1. a.

      Did you feel it was so strange that other people would find it very hard to believe?

  5. 5.

    Over the past year, have there been times when you heard or saw things that other people could not?

    1. a.

      Did you at any time hear voices saying quite a few words or sentences when there was no one around that might account for it?

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Chakraborty, A.T., McKenzie, K.J., Hajat, S. et al. Racism, mental illness and social support in the UK. Soc Psychiat Epidemiol 45, 1115–1124 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00127-009-0156-8

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00127-009-0156-8

Keywords

  • UK
  • Ethnicity
  • Racism
  • Social support
  • Mental illness