Title of Abstract

Religiosity and Mental Health: Exploring the Role of Religion on African Americans Seeking Mental Health Aid

Submitting Student(s)

Miyah Reed

Session Title

Vulnerable Populations 1

Faculty Sponsor (for work done with a non-Winthrop mentor)

Scott Huffmon, Ph.D.

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

Political Science

Abstract

There has been a long history surrounding the different kinds of medical treatment available to Black and white Americans. Black Americans have historically been less likely to receive the kinds of health care available to white Americans across a variety of fronts. Such a history of discrimination has caused the Black population to have a distrust for the medical community, but does this distrust extend to the mental health field as well? In searching for a safe haven away from what they perceive as the institutionalized racism characteristics of mainstream medicine, Blacks often turned to the church, regularly relying on spiritual beliefs rather than medical professionals. In this study I will investigate how religiosity and mental health stigma impact the likelihood of African Americans to seek mental health attention compared to non-Black individuals. A content analysis of personal interviews and data analysis of survey results have been used to test the hypothesis that Black individuals will be less likely to seek out medical attention pertaining to mental health as a result of past experiences of discrimination and will rely more on their faith based leaders (preachers and deacons) and personal communities (family, friends, teachers) when compared to non-black individuals. Religion is an important cultural trait within the Black community and is a vital resource for mental health. My research confirms that Black individuals who have a stronger tie to religion will be less likely to seek out mental health professionals compared to Black individuals who do not have a strong religious background.

Start Date

15-4-2022 12:00 PM

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Apr 15th, 12:00 PM

Religiosity and Mental Health: Exploring the Role of Religion on African Americans Seeking Mental Health Aid

There has been a long history surrounding the different kinds of medical treatment available to Black and white Americans. Black Americans have historically been less likely to receive the kinds of health care available to white Americans across a variety of fronts. Such a history of discrimination has caused the Black population to have a distrust for the medical community, but does this distrust extend to the mental health field as well? In searching for a safe haven away from what they perceive as the institutionalized racism characteristics of mainstream medicine, Blacks often turned to the church, regularly relying on spiritual beliefs rather than medical professionals. In this study I will investigate how religiosity and mental health stigma impact the likelihood of African Americans to seek mental health attention compared to non-Black individuals. A content analysis of personal interviews and data analysis of survey results have been used to test the hypothesis that Black individuals will be less likely to seek out medical attention pertaining to mental health as a result of past experiences of discrimination and will rely more on their faith based leaders (preachers and deacons) and personal communities (family, friends, teachers) when compared to non-black individuals. Religion is an important cultural trait within the Black community and is a vital resource for mental health. My research confirms that Black individuals who have a stronger tie to religion will be less likely to seek out mental health professionals compared to Black individuals who do not have a strong religious background.