Racism, social resources and mental health for Aboriginal people living in Adelaide

Authors


Correspondence to:
Dr Anna Ziersch, Southgate Institute for Health Society and Equity, Flinders University, GPO Box 2100, Adelaide, South Australia 5001; e-mail: anna.ziersch@flinders.edu.au

Abstract

Background: This paper examines whether reported experience of racism by Aboriginal people living in Adelaide is negatively associated with mental health, and whether social resources ameliorate the mental health effects of racism.

Methods: Face-to-face structured and semi-structured interviews were conducted with 153 Aboriginal people. Data on self-reported experiences of racism (average regularity of racism across a number of settings, regular racism in at least one setting), social resources (socialising, group membership, social support, talking/expressing self about racism), health behaviours (smoking, alcohol), socio-demographic (age, gender, education, financial situation) and mental health (SF-12 measure) are reported. Separate staged linear regression models assessed the association between the two measures of racism and mental health, after accounting for socio-demographic characteristics and health behaviours. Social resource variables were added to these models to see if they attenuated any relationship between racism and mental health.

Results: The two measures of racism were negatively associated with mental health after controlling for socioeconomic factors and health behaviours. These relationships remained after adding social resource measures. Non-smokers had better mental health, and mental health increased with positive assessments of financial situation.

Conclusion and Implications: Reducing racism should be a central strategy in improving mental health for Aboriginal people.

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