Black People & PTSD
Black People, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and the Risk of Death From Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Nationwide —Here are some facts: Black people have been found to be more likely to die from COVID-19 infection than white people, both in the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Black people also have a higher rate of PTSD diagnosis than white people. PTSD can result in suppression of the immune system. Immunosuppression is associated with a higher risk of death from COVID-19. It is thus not unreasonable to question whether PTSD-induced immunosuppression is contributing to the elevated risk of dying from COVID-19 amongst black people.
Data reveals that Black people are more than four times more likely to die from COVID-19 than white people in England and Wales and that even after adjusting for age, socioeconomic conditions and prior health, the figures show that Black people remain twice as likely to die from COVID-19 than white people in England and Wales, according to the Office for National Statistics.1 Some suggest sickle cell disease is the explanation, however this is unlikely, being already in a shielded group they are likely to have little or no ongoing expo-sure to COVID-19. Other contributary factors which have been highlighted are obesity, over-crowding and frontline working, however these are likely to be already adjusted for within socioeconomic status.
This article proposes that PTSD-induced immunosuppression contributes to raised mortality from COVID-19. PTSD is a condition which occurs after a traumatic experience where symptoms persist of reliving the distressing event and there is hypervigilance, numbing, mood changes including negativity about the self, the world and the future. There is avoidance of people and situations that act as reminders of the event and sleep and concentration disturbance. Physical symptoms including Neurological, Respiratory and Cardiovascular symptoms also occur in PTSD.2
What is the evidence that Black people have higher rates of PTSD?
The Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey: Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing, England, 2014 found doubling of the rate of PTSD amongst black adults at 8.3 per compared to white adults at 4.2 though assumed that the differences could not be relied on because of the small sizes involved.3
One study found that when PTSD affects US race/ethnic minorities, it is usually untreated and likely to become chronic and persistent and suggested that the large disparities in treatment indicate a need for investment in accessible and culturally sensitive treatment options.4 A separate two year follow up study found that African Americans with PTSD experience high number of traumas and most do not receive treatment.5
Findings from large-scale national studies suggest African Americans have a 9.1% prevalence rate for PTSD.6 This suggests that almost one in ten Black people becomes traumatized. This is an underestimate due to known under-diagnosis of PTSD in black people.7 Studies of racial discrimination and race-related stress have shown that when an individual reports psychological distress from racism, trauma was often not considered.8
Why would Black people be at increased risk of PTSD?
In addition to traumatic experiences that a person of any race or ethnicity might face, race-specific traumas include micro-aggressions and the erosion of a fundamental requirement for human beings – a sense of belonging. A striking example of that undermining of belonging was witnessed by the Windrush generation in the UK. Black people face challenges to a sense of belonging to desirable social, housing, occupational groups and on a wider scale there are challenges to the black person’s right to belong in a country such as the UK, a crude example being the ‘go back to where you came from’ statement. A sense of belonging is an intrinsic human need. The psychologist Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs defined self-actualization and self-esteem as requiring the secure foundations created by a sense of belonging.
Another often overlooked contributory factor to the large prevalence of traumas affecting Black people is Intergenerational transmission of trauma. Parent-child attachment patterns are known to replicate through generations within families. Going back to slavery and post-slavery eras, forced black familial disruption was part of the mechanism that enabled forced labour and enrichment of slave owners and others and this involved brutal disregard for the integrity of the black family unit by white oppressors. Yet another overlooked factor is vicarious trauma and witnessing shootings of unarmed black people can give rise to a sense of threat to the black viewer’s sense of their own safety.
What is the evidence that PTSD suppresses the immune system?
A study of 1,550 male workers with a previous history of PTSD concluded that PTSD produces immunosuppression and has long-term implications for health.9 This finding is now widely accepted amongst mental health professionals and a questionnaire commonly used as a tool to diagnose PTSD is the IES-r.10 A cut-off point of 37 and above in the IES-r is commonly accepted by mental health workers as associated with immunosuppression.
Treatment of PTSD
PTSD in Black people is treatable with a growing number of psychotherapies including prolonged exposure therapy, EMDR, cognitive processing therapy, somatic experiencing, if delivered by psychotherapists with training and knowledge of diversity matters. Medication is sometimes but not always required.
There now exists evidence for higher death rates of Black people from COVID-19 compared to White people as well as evidence that Black people have a higher rate of PTSD diagnosis than White people and furthermore that PTSD is associated with immunosuppression and we know that immunosuppression is associated with a higher risk of death from COVID-19. The proposed association described here between PTSD-induced immunosuppression and increased risk of death from COVID-19 needs to be explored further and in addition, high PTSD rates in black people need to be recognised and treated as both a mental and physical health priority.
1. Office of National Statistics. Release date: 7 May 2020. Coronavirus (COVID-19) related deaths by ethnic group, England and Wales: 2 March 2020 to 10 April 2020 obtained on 12 May 2020
2. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition. Arlington, VA, American Psychiatric Publishing
3. Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey. (2014) retrieved on 11 May 2020 from https://www.ethnicity-facts-figures.service.gov.uk/health/mental-health/adults-with-post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd-in-the-month-prior-to-survey/latest
4. Roberts, A.L., Gilman, S.E., Breslau, J.N., Breslau, N., & Koenen, K.C. (2011). Race/ethnic differences in exposure to traumatic events, development of post-traumatic stress disorder, and treatment-seeking for post-traumatic stress disorder in the United States. Psychol Med.
5. Pérez Benítez, C., Sibrava, N., Kohn-Wood, L., Bjornsson, A., Zlotnick, C., Weisberg, R. & Keller, M. (2014). Posttraumatic stress disorder in African Americans: A two year follow-up study. Psychiatry Research-neuroimaging Volume: 220, Issue: 1, pp 376-383
6. Himle, J.A., Baser, R.E., Taylor, R.J., Campbell, R. D. & Jackson J.S. (2009). Anxiety disorders among African Americans, blacks of Caribbean descent, and non-Hispanic whites in the United States, Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 23(5): 578-590.
7. Williams M., Malcoun E. & Bahojb Nouri L. (2015) Assessment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder with African Americans. In: Benuto L., Leany B. (eds) Guide to Psychological Assessment with African Americans. Springer, New York, NY
8. Carter, R. (2007). Racism and Psychological and Emotional Injury: Recognizing and Assessing Race-Based Traumatic Stress. The counselling psychologist Volume: 35 issue: 1, page(s): 13-105
9. Noriyuki Kawamura, Yoshiharu Kim & Nozomu Asukai (2001) Suppression of Cellular Immunity in Men with a past history of Posttraumatic stress disorder. Retrieved on 11 May 2020 from https://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/doi/full/10.1176/appi.ajp.158.3.484
10. Weiss, D.S., & Marmar, C.R. (1997). The Impact of Event Scale-Revised. In J.P. Wilson, & T.M. Keane (Eds.), Assessing Psychological Trauma and PTSD: A Practitioner’s Handbook (pp. 399-411). New York: Guilford Press
Source: Anne Coker
Bexar County Couple Offers Counseling & Mentorship Program
Community-based counseling is happening at Ken-Lyn Consultants and Associates, a vision Dr. Kenneth Brown and Dr. Lynda Brown had years ago. The couple is now considered a family counselor and life coach duo.
Ken-Lyn has been serving Bexar County since 2017 and has grown almost immediately from serving 3-5 clients weekly to serving 50-70 globally. One of their greatest accomplishments is their continuous “5-Star” ratings. Amazingly, of the thousands of clients that have chosen to write a review, they all have shared the same sentiment.
Dr. Lynda Brown is a product of the East Side, where her father, Dr. Walter Duncan, served as one of the leading dentists to Black clients. Her mom, Dr. Joan Duncan, spent 40 years as an educator and professor. Dr. Kenneth Brown’s mom was an office manager, church leader, and pianist in Southern Maryland.
The Brown’s services have taken them to faraway places such as Australia, Dubai, Italy, Hawaii, and Alaska. They travel to perform workshops and officiate weddings all over the country. The Brown’s business partner, Tiana Hill, is an Air Force veteran like Dr. Kenneth Brown. A University of Texas at San Antonio graduate, Hill develops all website and software programming, mentors the youth, and is also a parent in the program. Ken-Lyn’s associates and partners are specialists in their fields, such as nurse practitioners, military human resources, special education professionals, attorneys, doctors, pharmacists, information technology specialists, movers, mechanics, realtors, credit recovery, insurance brokers, and many more.
Ken-Lyn’s vast array of services is “everything family.” Their youngest client is four years old, and their oldest is 86. They have assisted over 110 students to get into four-year universities, helping them earn over $5.2 million in scholarships. Their clientele is diverse, from local families simply trying to keep their child in school to West Coast entertainers, East Coast politicians, doctors, lawyers, police officers, active military and veterans. They also serve as educational advocates during 504/IEP meetings from the school conference room to the Texas Education Agency and the Office of Civil Rights as needed.
Ken-Lyn Consultants and Associates has been where undergraduate psychology students come to “cut their teeth” and learn how to run a practice and market their services. As of spring 2023, 80% of their undergraduate interns have come from UTSA. Interns serve in the tradition of “camp counselors” as they aid students within the Ken-Lyn mentorship program.
They say, “We monitor grades. We aid them with everything from hygiene, makeup application, grooming, and college prep to cleaning and organizing backpacks. We help our mentees to discover themselves, despite the possible odds and misunderstandings they may face daily.”
This spring, Ken-Lyn has a busy community schedule while serving clients daily:
- Their office has recently expanded, and on March 23 at 6:30 pm, they will host a brief “Business Blessing Ceremony.” Dr. Otis Mitchell, pastor of Mt. Zion First Baptist Church, will officiate.
- On Thursday, March 30, the six-week “12 Steps Toward Communicating Better” workshop will conclude at the Windmill Ice House at 2769 Nacogdoches Rd, featuring artist Elizabeth Holmes and the Ken-Lyn Communicators Band.
- Their mentorship program will host female and minority pilots at the Boerne Stage Field, 100 Boerne Stage Airfield, on Sunday, March 26 at 5 pm.
- Other mentorship guest speakers this semester will include professionals in tech fields, professors, and adults who have turned their lives around for themselves and their families.
- Every semester, students in their program will tour at least two colleges. This semester, they will visit Our Lady of the Lake University and Texas A&M University at College Station.
To learn more about Ken-Lyn’s services, visit (KenLynConsultants.com) or call 210-761-4345.
Celebrating 100 Years – Saleta Rodgers
On 26 February 1923, Saleta Wilson was born to Rev. Rufus and Odessa Wilson of San Antonio, TX. She was the second child of six siblings.
She attended pre-integration San Antonio Independent School District (schools: Cuney Elementary; Frederick Douglas Jr High and graduated from Phyllis Wheatly High School). Later she went to cosmetology school. Many San Antonians were grateful for her coiffeur skills.
A lot of her early years were spent at church, where the Wilson children learned Biblical teaching and developed a love of singing. Saleta was a member of Mt. Zion First Baptist, Friendship Baptist, and Mt. Pleasant Baptist churches. Her father organized Antioch Baptist Church in 1935; she was a charter member. He later organized Mt. Sinai Baptist Church in 1952, where she is a charter member and still attends today.
While serving in the military at Lackland AFB, Prince Rogers visited Antioch, where he met Saleta. In 1946 they united in matrimony. The union lasted until his death in 1989, almost 43 years. Upon completing his military service, the couple moved to Prince’s home, Mobile, Alabama, where two children were born, Kenneth and Jacqueline.
Saleta was an active part of the church community in Mobile. Along with her duties as wife/mother/sewing for herself and others, she united with Mt Sinai of Whistler, Alabama, and was active in their Sunday school, choir, and Mission Circle. The family returned to San Antonio after four years.
Following her parents teaching, “Don’t send them, Bring Them,” she made sure her children had a spiritual base for their lives. While working in the beauty shop, she accompanied her children at church and their various activities. Wednesday night Bible Study was a routine family engagement. At any baseball/football/basketball game, she could be found in the bleachers or somewhere in the area. This chaperoning continued with her grandchildren. She was an active PTA member. She was involved in home, neighborhood, church, and community and even worked the polls on election days.
Saleta is an excellent cook, but everyone’s favorite is her home-made dinner rolls. There are many fond memories of fabulous dinners with family and friends.
After retirement, Saleta worked as a substitute teacher for 14 years with SAISD.
She has opened her home for some who needed a place to live. Through sickness, pain, agony, headache, heartache, nursing, caring, and losses, Saleta has remained a devoted disciple of Christ. Through it, all of God’s business never suffered and was never cut short. As it gets late in her evening, her steps may be a little slower/shorter now, but she’s still about the Father’s business. She continues to believe “when praises go up, blessings come down.”
Black Life Texas
A Crowded Mayor’s Race
By Chris Dawkins
Feb. 17 was the deadline for candidates to file their intentions to run for an elected office. Election Day in San Antonio is Saturday, May 6, 2023.
Below are the City of San Antonio Mayor and City Council candidates. In a later magazine issue, we will include other candidates for school boards and other municipalities.
If you are a candidate in Bexar County and would like to be included in future issues of Black Life Texas, please submit a (75 word) description of your candidacy to; (CandiCandidate@BlackLifeTexas.com).
Here are the San Antonio municipal candidates:
Mayor (10) Candidates
Christopher Longoria, Ray Adam Basaldua, Diana Flores Uriegas, Ron Nirenberg*, Michael Idrogo, Armando Dominguez, Gary Allen, Christopher T. Schuchardt, Michael Samaiego
District 1 (10) Candidates
Sukh Kaur, Ernest Salinas, Jeremy Roberts, Lauro Bustamante, Mario Bravo*, Kaitlyn Folk, Roberto Rios Ortega, James Matthew Duerr, William T. Lamar-Boone
District 2 (10) Candidates
Carla Walker, Edward Earl Giles, Jalen McKee-Rodriguez*, James M. Guild, Denise Gutierez, Denise McVea, Wendell Carson, Patrick Jones, Rose Requeneq Hill, Michael John Good
District 3 (4) Candidates
Larry La Rose, Phyllis Viagran*, Jayden Munoz, Erin Gallegos Reid
District 4 (3) Candidates
Adrian Rocha Garcia*, Gregorio De La Paz
District 5 (3) Candidates
Teri Castillo*, Arturo Espinosa, Rudy Lopez
District 6 (2) Candidates
Irina Rudolph, Melissa Cabello Havrda*
District 7 (5) Candidates
Dan Rossiter, Marina Alderele Gavito, Jacob Chapa, Sandragrace Martinez, Andrew “AJ” Luck
District 8 (2) Candidates
Cessario Garcia, Manny Pelaez*
District 9 (5) Candidates
John Courage*, David Allan Lara, Jarrett Lipman, Dominque Lui, James Casey
District 10 (7) Candidates
Joel Scolis, Madison Gutierrez, Margaret Sherwood, Marc Whyte, Rick Otley, Robert Flores, Bryan R. Martin
* Indicates incumbent
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