Abstract: (see Poster Gallery) Unmasking Hidden Wounds: Understanding the Adverse Mental Effects of Anti-Black Police Violence (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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SSWR 2023 Poster Gallery: as a registered in-person and virtual attendee, you have access to the virtual Poster Gallery which includes only the posters that elected to present virtually. The rest of the posters are presented in-person in the Poster/Exhibit Hall located in Phoenix A/B, 3rd floor. The access to the Poster Gallery will be available via the virtual conference platform the week of January 9. You will receive an email with instructions how to access the virtual conference platform.

349P (see Poster Gallery) Unmasking Hidden Wounds: Understanding the Adverse Mental Effects of Anti-Black Police Violence

Friday, January 13, 2023
Phoenix C, 3rd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Krystle Skeete, MEd, Graduate Student, York University, Toronto, ON, Canada
Background and Purpose:

Police violence against unarmed Black men, women, and children has been recognized as a public health concern and has drawn attention to the pervasive anti-Black policing practices across Canada and the United States. The rate of exposure to police violence has increased immensely, and evidence has demonstrated a connection between exposure to police violence and mental health outcomes. While a substantial amount of literature has focused anti-Black policing and use of force practices, there is an increasing need to understand the mental health consequences these incidents have on members of the Black community.


A qualitative interpretative meta-synthesis was used to understand the mental health consequences of police violence. A qualitative interpretative meta-synthesis approach is a systematic synthesis of qualitative studies, including grey literature reporting on anti-Black policing violence and its adverse mental health effects on Black people in Canada and the United States. This paper examines the mental health impacts of police induced trauma on members of the Black community at an individual and community level.

For this study, Google Scholar, Journal of Human Behaviour and Journal of Sociology and Social Work Abstracts, ProQuest Social Work, Human Behaviour, Psychology, Health and Public Health databases were employed to identify relevant qualitative studies in the field of social sciences, psychology, social issues, social work, behavioral science, and criminology.


The finding suggests that there is a need to enhance the training in social work education to offer culturally sensitive practice to address experiences of anti-Black racism. Specifically around understanding and assessing race-based trauma by way of direct and vicarious exposure to anti-Black police violence. The finding also suggest that further research is needed to identify appropriate appraisals and protective factors that can lessen the effects of anti-Black police violence.

Conclusion and Implications:

The current study has implications for community, public health and social work research and education on anti-Black racism as a health crisis. It is pertinent to recognize that the adverse impact of anti-black police violence persists long after the interaction, and it is critical for the community at large to acknowledge the trauma the Black community experience in light of the national epidemic of anti-black police violence. Further, social work education fails to prepare social workers to ground Black client issues in a social work framework that incorporates an analysis of anti-black racism and assessing race-based trauma, both direct and secondary trauma, by way of viewing, reading, and hearing racially traumatic encounters. There is also a need to address anti-Black Police violence as a public health crisis and requires more attention and response to be addressed at all levels of government.