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• The author explains the concept of “microaggressions” and how they can affect mental health.
• Microaggressions can be intentional or unintentional, and can have a profound impact on individuals.
• Steps are outlined to help combat microaggression in order to create a more inclusive environment.
What are Microaggressions?
Microaggressions are subtle yet offensive comments or actions directed at a person or group of people that often go unrecognized by the perpetrator, but have an immense impact on those affected. These invisible forms of discrimination can take many forms, including verbal or nonverbal remarks, jokes, put-downs, and gestures. They can be intentional or unintentional; however, their effect is tangible and has been linked to poorer mental health outcomes for those who experience them.
The Impact of Microaggressions
Microaggressions have been found to lead to feelings of anger, anxiety, depression and low self-esteem among those who experience them. They are also associated with increased risk for physical health problems such as hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Additionally, microagressions can lead to feelings of alienation from society as well as decreased educational performance in students who experience them in school settings.
How Can We Combat Microaggression?
In order to create an inclusive environment free from microaggression it is important that we become aware of our own biases and strive to recognize the potential harm that our words or actions can cause others. It is also important that we call out instances when we observe someone else engaging in discriminatory behavior towards another person or group of people so that these behaviors do not become normalized within our communities. Finally, it is essential that organizations take proactive steps towards creating an affirming culture where everyone feels respected regardless of their identity markers (i.e., race/ethnicity/gender etc). This may include providing training on recognizing and responding appropriately to instances of microaggression as well as making sure there are systems in place for individuals who feel they have experienced discrimination due to their identity markers.
Why Is This Important?
It is important for us all to be aware of the implications that microagressions have on mental health outcomes so that we can take necessary steps towards creating a safe and supportive environment for everyone regardless of their identities. It is also important for us all to recognize our own biases so that we may learn how best to support each other during times when we may not understand one another’s perspectives due to differences in identity markers (i.e., race/ethinicity/gender etc).
Microaggressions have far reaching consequences on the mental health outcomes for those affected by them; however, by becoming aware of our own biases and taking steps towards creating a more inclusive environment through education campaigns and systems for reporting incidents it is possible for us all work together towards creating more equitable societies free from discrimination based on identity markers such as race/ethnicity/gender etc..