According to the 2015 American Psychological Association Stress in America Survey, a high percentage of American adults feel that they have experienced some form of discrimination at some time in their lives. The most commonly reported type of discrimination was racial, but some individuals reported being targeted because of other factors including gender, age, education, weight, or income.
Discrimination involves the unfair treatment of an individual or group which is founded on qualities such as race, sexual orientation, gender, age, disability, or weight. Discrimination can stem from prejudices that are learned from parents or peers, or from misunderstandings and fear. Discrimination often becomes a health issue. Many victims of discrimination report suffering from chronic stress as well as a variety of other mental health problems including anxiety and depression.
Discrimination in the Workplace
Unfortunately, discrimination is far too common in the workplace even though it is prohibited by law. It may occur in many different forms. For example, if you receive unfavorable treatment at work due to your age, such as offensive remarks, or practices which have a negative impact on you if you are older than 40, or if you are harassed, segregated or unfairly dismissed because of your religious beliefs.
Dealing With Discrimination
- Spotlight your Strengths: By focusing on your strengths and goals you can motivate yourself to ward off the negative effects of prejudice.
- Look for support: Do not fall into the trap of internalizing others’ negative ideas about you; otherwise, you will begin to think you are not a good person. Talk to friends and family about what’s going on so that they can help you deal with the emotional stress. They can also give you advice on what to do about it.
- Get involved: If you don’t feel comfortable turning to friends or family for support, you can seek a support group or organization that deals with the specific type of discrimination you’re experiencing. You can either find them locally or online. It can be very helpful to talk to others who have had similar experiences to yours
- Try to think clearly: Being the victim of discrimination can affect you mentally and emotionally. It can cause feelings of anger and resentment. It can also cause stress, high blood pressure, and an elevated heart rate. Try not to react. Take slow, deep breaths and calm your body. That way you will be able to think more clearly about the best way to respond.
- Don’t overthink: When you’ve experienced discrimination, you may find you have a tendency to dwell on it, partly because you don’t know how to deal with it. Overthinking discrimination is not a good idea because it can actually make things worse. Studies show that people who think too much about negative experiences and thoughts and experience even more stress and anxiety. Try to work out a plan on how you will deal with this situation in the future. It might help to talk it over with someone. Once you’ve decided how to respond, put the incident behind you and carry on with your normal routine.
- Seek professional guidance: Discrimination can be extremely difficult to deal with alone. If you are experiencing chronic stress, depression or anxiety, it may be time to seek professional help. A psychologist is trained to help people deal with this type of issue and can help you find healthy ways to cope. The American Psychology Association has a Psychologist Locator Service that will help you find a professional in your area.
- Seek legal help: A discrimination lawyer is one who specializes in filing lawsuits against people or organizations who are guilty of acts of discrimination which affect your employment, access to medical services, loan applications, business, housing situation, access to education, access to any public services, and violation of your human rights. If you feel you are the target of discrimination in your workplace or other life situations, you can find legal advice at http://toomuchatstake.com/
Don’t believe the common myth that discrimination does not exist, and do not suffer discrimination in silence. You are not alone. There are many support groups and organizations out there whose mission is to end the domino effect of discrimination. Look online to see how they can be of assistance. Seek support and advice today so you can help to put a stop to the spread of hate.
Francesca Buckley works to tackle employment discrimination. Her informative articles appear on career, business and lifestyle blogs to raise awareness and discuss best practices.