The impact of racism on mental health

"I think we are in a moment of reckoning, a moment of understanding race and how profoundly race continues to matter for health," said Harvard's Dr. David Williams.

Racism and mental health
Racism and mental health 02:41

This Sunday on 60 Minutes, correspondent Bill Whitaker reported on how racism impacts the health of people of color in America.

For the story, Whitaker interviewed Dr. David Williams, professor of public health, and chair of the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, who described how discrimination impacts long-term mental and physical health adversely.

Williams told 60 Minutes that police killings affect the mental health of Black people in the impacted community.

"We were able to document that every police shooting of an unarmed African American led to worse mental health for the entire Black population in the state in which it occurred for the next three months," said Williams. "There was no impact of a police shooting of an armed Black male on the mental health of Blacks. And there was no effect of a police shooting of armed or unarmed male on the mental health of whites."

Williams was citing a 2018 quasi-experimental study published in the Lancet journal that found police killings of unarmed Black people negatively impacted the mental health of the Black community statewide for a prolonged period of time. 

"I think we are at a crossroads in the United States," Williams said. I think we are in a moment of reckoning, a moment of understanding race and how profoundly race continues to matter for health."