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Discrimination is a pervasive societal issue that monumentally impacts people of color (POC). Many Black, Asian, and Hispanic/Latinx individuals report experiencing race-based discrimination in their lifetime. Discrimination has previously been linked to adverse health outcomes among POC, including stress, depressive, and posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms. These health disparities are posited to have become exacerbated by COVID-19 and the racial awakening of 2020. The current study examined the short- and long-term effects of discrimination on stress, depression, and oppression-based trauma among POC.


Participants were (n = 398) who identified as Black, Indigenous, Hispanic/Latinx, and Asian completed an online self-report survey assessing discrimination, depression, stress, and oppression-based trauma collected at 3 time points: (T1) beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic (May 2020), (T2) 6 weeks later during the racial awakening of 2020 (June 2020), (T3) one year later (June 2021).


Significant positive paths were revealed from T1 discrimination to T2 depression, T2 stress, and T3 oppression-based trauma. The association between T1 discrimination and T3 oppression-based trauma was partially mediated by T2 depression, but not by stress; total and total indirect effects remained significant. The final model accounted for a significant proportion of the variance in T3 oppression-based trauma, T2 depression, and T2 stress.


Findings are consistent with prior research linking discriminatory experiences with mental health symptomatology and provide evidence that race-based discrimination poses harmful short-and long-term mental health consequences. Further research is necessary to better understand oppression-based trauma to improve the accuracy of clinical diagnosis and treatment of POC.

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© The Author(s) 2023.

This article originally appeared in the journal Chronic Stress.

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License