Researchers say Recent Presidential Election can Cause Public Health Crisis

By KM Diaz, | June 10, 2017

Researchers say Recent Presidential Election can Cause Public Health Crisis (YouTube)

Researchers say Recent Presidential Election can Cause Public Health Crisis (YouTube)

Researchers from McLean Hospital Spirituality and Mental Health Program and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health have warned about public health crisis brought by the recent presidential election. They point out that the history of physical and mental illness due to anxiety and fear caused by previous political climates is parallel to increasing stress and hostility currently experiencing by many people.

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The concerns of the authors revolve around racial hostility, worry, as well as prejudice. They wrote that the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump seems to bring pre-existing hostile attitudes to further surface toward racial and ethnic minorities, Muslims, and immigrants. In a survey conducted by the Southern Poverty Law Center that involves 2,000 elementary and high school teachers, researchers found that most students are "emboldened" by using bigoted speech and racial slurs against these three groups.

Apart from these, according to the teachers in the survey, 67 percent of the students are worried about what will happen in their families because of the recent election. The fear was further justified following the election, wherein harassment has reportedly increased in the country, particularly in schools. These developments could be a major cause of stress to Americans.

David Williams, the co-author of the study and who also teaches sociology, health disparities, and public health at Harvard University, explains that overloaded stress may lead to dire health consequences. When the amount of stress exceeds to person's ability to cope, the physiological systems fail to handle it. William says that this failure could harm the body in several ways. For instance, a person could worsen diabetes or may also develop hypertension.

In addition, reports claim that many Americans were stressed because of the outcome of 2016 presidential election. According to the survey of the American Psychological Association, 56 percent of Hispanics, 69 percent of blacks, 26 percent of Republicans, and 72 percent of Democrats felt that way. On that same survey, researchers found that out of 1,019 adults, two-thirds were stressed on what will be the future of the U.S.

The history also shows a very tight connection between health outcomes and national events. A Detroit-based research after the attack on 9/11 has observed a link between psychological distress and increased discrimination to people from the Middle East. A separate study saw a pattern of Arab-American women living in California having low-birth-weight babies following 9/11. This discrimination can cause more concrete health consequences, authors noted.

Williams and Morgan Medlock, another co-author of the study and a psychiatrist at McLean Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital, are also worried about the threat of lawmakers to drop health care options. They cited the cuts to similar programs by the Reagan administration in 1981, leaving 600,000 Medicaid beneficiaries without any insurance that leads to closure of 250 community health centers.

Hence, health problems in the past prompt multiple types of stress to the current political climate, and the stress itself may be too much to handle. Medlock and Williams advised health-care providers to take note of this evidence.

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