Transmission of experiences of Racism, Anxiety and Depression in families (TRADE)

Yasmin Ahmadzadeh - black and white image

Dr Yasmin Ahmadzadeh, King’s College London in partnership with Centre for Mental Health

Children of parents experiencing anxiety and depression are at higher risk for developing similar problems. Within racialised communities, experiences of racism could be implicated in the familial transmission of anxiety and depression, but this possibility remains under-acknowledged in mental health research and clinical care. The TRADE project will:

  • Gather information via literature review and consultation with parents and teenagers, to document how parents’ experiences of racism, anxiety and depression might affect child mental health.

  • Share findings with community groups, academic and clinical professionals, outlining methods for change in research and clinical care, for those working to support family mental health.

  • Seek to inspire and train future generations of diverse researchers, supporting individuals to pursue research questions that platform lived experiences in their own communities.

Key Messages

Dr Yasmin Ahmadzadeh shared some of the key messages behind the research findings and potential future areas for development.

  • We heard that racial discrimination is prevalent in the UK, impacting parents and children across a range of racialised communities (e.g., those identifying as Black African, Black Caribbean, South Asian, East Asian, Arab), impacting mental health and wellbeing of those affected. 

  • We heard that children are exposed to racism both directly through their own experiences, and indirectly through their parents’ experiences. Parents are also exposed to racism both directly through their own experiences, and indirectly through their child’s experiences. These processes are simultaneous and difficult to disentangle. 

  • Parents in the UK feel the need to teach their children about racism from a very young age (pre- 8 years), to prepare their children for how to avoid and cope with the inevitable racism they will face. These processes continue throughout childhood and into adolescence, impacting parenting styles and parent-child relationships. 

  • Most of the research on the impact of racism on mental health in families has been conducted in the USA, predominantly (but not exclusively) with African American families. This existing research shows links between parents’ experiences of racism and child mental health outcomes, mediated by both parent mental health and parenting behaviour.  

  • Much research has been focussed on parents’ ‘Racial Socialisation Strategies’ in the USA, describing the verbal and behavioural practices through which parents transmit information, values, and perspectives about ‘race’ to their children. 

  • UK-based parents and teenagers from a range of racialised groups shared experiences that map closely onto those already documented in the USA-based literature. Our findings suggest that research derived from communities in the USA is relevant to families in the UK, and that more efforts are needed in this country to address these issues. 

Further reading


Podcast: Transmission of Experiences of Racism, Anxiety and Depression in Families. Undergraduate Research Assistants discuss their experience working on this project.

Poster pack capturing key project learning alongside poetry and illustration developed by Writerz and Scribez

Pamphlet for July 2022 Public Engagement event at Science Gallery London

Visual summary of October 2022 event series: Intergenerational trauma: science, poems, stories, illustration, reflection

The project is on-going and you can keep up to date with current developments with @yaszadeh and @CentreforMH