Mental Health Trumps Hate

The implications for mental health treatments after the U.S. election results

            Protests have erupted throughout the U.S. due to the results of the election with Donald Trump being chosen as the President-elect, he will likely be the next President due to winning more electoral college votes. The more concerning issue is the amount of Trump supporters who are engaging in violent hate crimes toward the people Trump marginalized (Muslims, African-Americans, Latinos, LGBTQ people, etc.). [i] [ii] [iii] [iv] Many part of those targeted groups are scared as these acts are occurring nationwide. The suicide hotline also received substantial amount of calls once the election results were announced. [v] The questions to be asking are; How does prejudice like this occur? Will this affect individual wellbeing? What can be done to stop it?

            Evolutionary psychology would confirm that being part of the “in group” compared to the “out-group” was a survival mechanism that we still see patterns of today in studies of social psychology. [vi] Social bonding and sense of belonging were necessary for survival but the cost was a developed sense of prejudice for those different from the group who would be considered harmful. Our mind continues these patterns of prejudice with Implicit Association, creating stereotypes based on what we think about different groups of people after seeing activities, occupations, beliefs, behaviours, etc. performed by certain groups which results in behavioral changes toward those groups. [vii] The results of these study found that most people hold some sort of bias toward other groups and are biased toward their own race over others. [viii]

            It has been found that discriminatory behaviors, both obvious and subtle have equally damaging effects on wellbeing to those being discriminated against, with subtle discrimination occurring more frequently than overt. [ix] Discrimination and hate speech also has an impact on wellbeing by causing lower self-esteem and more depressive feelings among the group targeted against. [x]  A study about LGBTQ people experiencing prejudice showed that “mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and substance use disorders, increase in risk”.[xi] Due to prejudice becoming more frequent with Trump in power, finding the answer to combating that prejudice as well as those effected becomes more crucial.

            Social support combined in different forms proved to be helpful for Latino children who were discriminated against but was not as effective when only one form was used. [xii] Other studies have confirmed that wellbeing is affected by those we surround ourselves with creating a social identity that effects behaviour. [xiii] In order to help those who are targeted, they will have to have multiple system of support from friends, family, and those in the workplace. Having that support can create a huge impact for the wellbeing of those experiencing discrimination.  


Written by Trish McLernon

Trish McLernon is a King’s College London MSc student studying Organizational Psychiatry and Psychology. Her dissertation is on the causes of police brutality within police forces worldwide. To see her blog, which specializes in psychology in current events, relationships, and everyday life, follow this link.