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Racism Is Tied To Mental Health Problems For Veterans Of Color

A U.S. Army helicopter gunner flying over Afghanistan in 2008. (John Moore/Getty Images)
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Researchers have determined that the stress of living in a racist society can damage the health of people of color, including their mental health.

But the concept is still not widely accepted among psychologists.

There are some efforts to change that, including in the health care system run by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

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VA psychologists got a grant to create a program to help veterans identify race-based stress and trauma as the source of at least some of their anxiety. The idea, said former VA psychologist Lamise Shawahin, was to "break the cycles of self blame."

"Experiencing racism was turning into people being labeled with pathology, when really they were just experiencing racism," she said.

The model was group meetings for veterans of color facilitated by one or two VA psychologists and a peer support person.

Army veteran Jared McBride joined one of the first small groups.

"We all have similar stories of different race-related issues that either derailed your career or it hampered your career," he said.

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