Black unemployment crisis takes toll on kids’ mental health
The Grio | May 6, 2011

Persistent unemployment has heightened stress in many black households across the United States. Relationships are strained. Homes have been lost. Personal debt is increasing. Medical insurance coverage is lacking.

Now, experts say the effects of economic strife are also affecting the mental health of childrenin these households.

Blacks continue to have the highest unemployment rate of any ethnic group — 16.1 percent — according to unemployment statistics released today. And, while children from any background can react negatively to parental stress, black children are uniquely affected.

“Children are very observant,” says Dr. Alfiee Breland-Noble, assistant professor of psychiatry at Duke University Medical Center. “They are attuned to changes in mood, changes in your tone of voice, whether you look fatigued and your energy level.”

Dr. Michael Pratts, clinical assistant professor at the Department of Psychiatry at SUNY Upstate Medical Campus, agrees: “Children take emotional cues from their parents. A stressed parentcauses a stressed child.”

Since children, especially younger children, do not possess the vocabulary or emotional maturity to express their own stress, it manifests in other ways.  (Read more)