The novel coronavirus first appeared in Wuhan, China in December of 2019, but has rapidly become a growing concern for the global community, eventually being declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on March 11, 2020. As concern regarding the virus has grown in the United States, so has discrimination against Asian Americans. The virus has been personified as Chinese, and Asian American businesses and individuals are receiving the backlash as they become the targets of racial slurs, speech, and attacks.

Despite their responsibility to deliver current news with little bias, media outlets have been observed as one of the higher contributing factors to the increased discrimination and xenophobia. In an article for U.S. News, Middle Tennessee State University professor Katie Foss from the School of Journalism and Strategic Media writes:

“U.S. coverage has been inflammatory, particularly across social media and other unsubstantiated sources, which are unfortunately often taken as fact.”

This barrage of stigmatized media has already negatively impacted Asian Americans and is likely to continue as fears and concerns over the coronavirus grow.

In recognition of the integral role the media has played in the increased discrimination against Asian Americans, Dr. Jun Wen and his team of tourism scholars from different universities conducted a post-published review on a 2015 research study examining the role of perceived racial discrimination on one’s mental health. Wen et al. include the role that the media may play as the coronavirus continues to spread and discuss the negative effects Asian American businesses and the tourism industry have already observed.

The study they reference was led by Craig Rodriguez-Seijas, a clinical psychology student in the Stony Brook Graduate School whose interests include the intersection of psychopathology and environmental factors. The study, “Transdiagnostic Factors and Mediation of the Relationship between Perceived Racial Discrimination and Mental Disorders”, was published in JAMA Psychiatry in 2015. The purpose of the experiment was to analyze whether or not one’s perceived racial discrimination contributed to mental health illness, and if it was through a specific diagnosis or a transdiagnostic factor. In other words, Rodriguez-Seijas et al. were investigating whether an encounter of perceived racial discrimination could account for a specific mental illness diagnosis or a generalized diagnosis, one that addresses an overarching category of disease.

Read the full article at Psychology Today.