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What is minority stress?

Every now and then we experience things that cause stress. These can be things like work, relationship problems, or even just being stuck in traffic. Minority stress, however, is a form of stress that is endured by people of a marginalized group (e.g., people of color, LGBTQ+ people, people with disabilities, etc.). People of marginalized groups face this stress because of the discrimination and victimization they experience due to their identities (e.g., bullying). There are three key factors which characterize minority stress and separate it from other stressors: 1) chronic, 2) social, and 3) unique.

What are the effects of minority stress?

Minority stress has several effects on the people who endure it. For one, people who experience minority stress are at risk for experiencing a lifetime of harassment, prejudice, discrimination, and other forms of victimization. Because of this, people who experience minority stress are at a heightened risk for developing anxiety, depression, PTSD, substance use, and suicidality. People who experience minority stress are also less likely to engage in help seeking behaviors (e.g., seeing a therapist) out of mistrust in people in the majority group and fear of being discriminated against.

How can I combat the effects of minority stress?

Minority stress is unfortunately persistent and affects people throughout their lifetime. However, there are several things that people can do to combat the effects of minority stress. If you are in a position of privilege, you can advocate for the rights of people who are oppressed. If you are dealing with minority stress, you can talk to loved ones you confide in. Creating a community for yourself is essential for supporting yourself through adversity. You can also find a therapist who either shares your identity statuses, or who is culturally competent.

This page is also part of the Roamers Therapy Glossary; a collection of mental-health related definitions that are written by our therapists.

While our offices are currently located at the South Loop neighborhood of Downtown Chicago, Illinois, we also welcome and serve clients for online therapy from anywhere in Illinois and Washington, D.C. Clients from the Chicagoland area may choose in-office or online therapy and usually commute from surrounding areas such as River North, West Loop, Gold Coast, Old Town, Lincoln Park, Lake View, Rogers Park, Logan Square, Pilsen, Bridgeport, Little Village, Bronzeville, South Shore, Hyde Park, Back of the Yards, Wicker Park, Bucktown and many more. You can visit our contact page to access detailed information on our office location.