Black women are the least likely population to report their mental health status as very good or excellent. Stress has been implicated in worse mental health and provocation of pain crises, particularly in Black women with SCD.
Studies have shown that Black individuals respond well to mental health treatment when treated appropriately but may metabolize medications more slowly than Caucasians. Unfortunately, Black patients often receive higher doses of psychiatric drugs, and as a result of being poor metabolizers, they experience worse side effects, contributing to mental health disparities.
A study was conducted to better understand the relationship between mental health and SCD outcomes in Black women. Study participants were questioned regarding what contributing factors had burdened them during the course of their SCD and the effects of these stressors on their mental health. Researchers recorded and analyzed these experiences to learn why Black women with SCD are predisposed to anxiety and depression.
It was revealed that Black women experience a particular set of role expectations that are highly stressful. Black women feel that their responsibilities include childbearing, employment, and family roles. These stressors put an unjust level of burden on Black women, which is exacerbated by SCD.
Discrimination within the medical community was also revealed to negatively impact the mental health of Black women with SCD. Study participants reported that hospital staff treated them poorly, on many occasions assuming that they were drug-seekers, during their pain crises. These experiences damage mental health by destroying self-esteem and wholeness and compromise physical health.
In conclusion, Black women with SCD were found to be more susceptible to mental health issues, including anxiety and depression, due to social, cultural, and economic barriers and racism in the healthcare system. To improve the quality of life and life expectancy of Black women with SCD, quality and comprehensive mental and physical healthcare programs must be made available to the Black community .
Source: Cole, P. L. (2007). Black Women and Sickle Cell Disease. Californian Journal of Health Promotion, 5(SI), 24–39. https://doi.org/10.32398/cjhp.v5isi.1196