Mental Health and Girls of Color

Women and girls of all races and ethnicities are more likely than boys and men to report emotional and psychiatric symptoms. Women and girls of color, in particular, face unique stressors that are compounded by the intersection of race and gender identities. Negative sociocultural experiences rooted in racism, discrimination, and sexism contribute to emotional pain, but often remain unacknowledged as sources of distress.

Children of color experience substantially higher rates of adversity during childhood than their white peers, which can significantly impact physical and mental health, as well as educational and economic outcomes.Trauma, in turn, can lead to engagement with the juvenile justice system, which can itself further exacerbate symptoms.

Further, girls of color experience unique forms and rates of trauma and higher rates of school discipline and involvement in the juvenile justice system — which, in addition to increasing the risk for other negative outcomes, also raises their vulnerability to domestic sex trafficking, as reflected in the disproportionately high rates of representation among trafficking survivors.3

Children of color, including children of immigrants, also are affected by law enforcement policies in the U.S. Racial and ethnic minorities are disproportionally represented in the criminal justice system. The effects on children when loved ones are detained, incarcerated, or deported are significant yet often overlooked. For example, separation from incarcerated or deported parents is a type of adverse childhood experience, which can instigate complex forms of grief, depression, and stress-induced health problems.

Read more at the Georgetown Law Center of Poverty & Inequality’s Initiative of Gender Justice & Opportunity