More Research Needed On Mental and Physical Health of Men of Color

Minority individuals face many challenges that nonminority people never encounter. These challenges can be further exacerbated depending on the minority status of an individual. For example, people of minority races may face obstacles to employment and education that sexual minority individuals never experience. Similarly, people of certain ethnicities may face blatant social prejudice that other minority individuals are able to escape. Understanding how stressors affect the health of minority individuals is critical to helping them overcome and cope with those stresssors. Derek M. Griffith of the Center on Men’s Health Disparities of the Department of Health Behavior & Health Education at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health realized that gender and race significantly influence the health of minority individuals and sought to identify the quality and quantity of research dedicated to these issues for men of color.

Griffith and his colleagues searched existing research and found only 22 studies that looked specifically at the physical, behavioral, or psychological health of men of color. These studies revealed many interesting discoveries. First, Griffith found that men of color identified with masculine norms that caused them to avoid engaging in health-promoting behaviors. Instead, the majority of men studied adhered strongly to masculine ideals and were more likely to participate in risky behavior that demonstrated power and fearlessness. These behaviors included sexual risk taking, substance abuse, driving without a seat belt, and extreme sporting activities. Because of these trends, the physical and psychological health of men of color was significantly lower than the health of women of color.

Griffith believes his study clearly demonstrates the need for more research on men of color, and in particular, men of color over the age of 40. These men face unique challenges that could impact their ability to cope with stress and could significantly impair their physical and mental well-being. Griffith also recommends studies that explore more key areas of men’s health, such as sexual preference and ethnic origin. “Qualitative research has highlighted the importance of recognizing that men of color not only face gendered stressors, but ones that are shaped by race and ethnicity as well,” said Griffith. Although existing research has touched on some of these issues, more needs to be done to fully capture the diverse conditions that affect men of color.

Griffith, D. M., Gunter, K., Watkins, D. C. (2012). Measuring masculinity in research on men of color: Findings and future directions. American Journal of Public Health 102.S2, S187-S194.

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  • julian

    June 18th, 2012 at 12:13 AM

    so as I understand this men of color actually suffer due to gender issues as well as racial ones.thats a double burden on their shoulders I’m sure.but what makes a person follow what the society expects of him and not what he actually wants?Isnt that the root cause to a lot of problems in the world today?

  • Renee

    June 18th, 2012 at 4:48 AM

    I can’t help but feel like a lot of black men bring this on themselves, and I feel Like I can say this as a black female.
    they don’t always engage in the healthiest behavior, you know, and alot of that is of their own choosing, not because society says thats how it has to be. They need to grow up and start taking some responsibility for the choices that they are making and think long and hard about how this is affecting their families and their personal lives.
    it shouldn’t be up to the rest of us to make these changes for them, they are the only ones who can do it for themselves and for the right reasons. It can’t always be about the fact that they think that someone is trying to keep them from doing better. they have to do that for their own selves.

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