Black Americans experience an increase in poor mental health days during weeks when two or more incidents of anti-Black violence occur, according to a new study. An increase in poor mental health days also occurs when national interest surrounding the events is higher.

Previous research has shown that experiencing racism, even vicariously, can harm the mental and physical health of others of the same racial group.

The new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is the first to examine how police killings and other violent, racial incidents with large media coverage affect Black Americans’ mental health on a national scale.

The study is particularly timely as the public attention has been turned to the murder trial of Derek Chauvin and suggests that the verdict in the case will likely reverberate far beyond Minneapolis.

“This study provides additional evidence of the toxic nature of systemic racism and the role racism plays in producing, maintaining, and amplifying health disparities. If we want to improve the health of our population, we must dismantle racism,” says coauthor Hedwig Lee, a professor of sociology and co-director of the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity & Equity at Washington University in St. Louis.

The researchers identified 49 incidents of highly publicized anti-Black violence between 2013-17 using news coverage of the first 60 days after the incident. These violent acts included police killings of Blacks and hate-crime murders as well as decisions to not indict/convict officers. The researchers established the number of incidents happening per week and quantified weekly national interest using Google Trends.

Read the full article about anti-Black violence and Black mental health by Sara Savat at Futurity.