What then shall we say to these things? an investigation of African American pastors' response to mental health needs in the Black church and their influence on African American help-seeking behaviors and coping strategies

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Janeé R. Avent (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Craig Cashwell

Abstract: African Americans are often disproportionately represented in vulnerable populations that could likely cause them to be at a greater risk for struggling with anxiety and depression (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2001), however, they tend to seek professional counseling at a much lower rate than other racial and ethnic populations and instead turn their spiritual leaders as a resource (Ayalon & Young, 2005). Because of under-utilization of mental health services within the African-American community (Avalon & Young, 2005), more research attention should be directed toward factors that affect the help-seeking behaviors of African Americans (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2001). Generally, the Black Church is considered a less stigmatized method of getting help in the Black community (Andrews, Stefurak, & Mehta, 2010), a solution for many mental health problems (Newhill & Harris, 2007) and pastors are valued as credible sources for assistance with social and psychological problems because of their status as pastor, often regardless of the pastor's educational background, knowledge of mental health issues, and previous experience (Kane & Greene, 2009). There remains much that is unknown about pastoral motivations, beliefs, attitudes, and influence related to mental health needs of their parishioners. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate the pastors' response to parishioners dealing with anxiety, depression, unemployment, bereavement, and familial concerns; their motivations to encourage or discourage help-seeking outside of the Black Church; their perspectives on secular counseling services in their community; their perspective on spiritual, biological, psychological, and social coping methods; and their beliefs about identifying and responding to maladaptive religious coping strategies. Consensual Qualitative Research was used as the research protocol to collect and analyze the data. Findings from this study suggest that African Americans frequently seek help from their pastors regarding anxiety, depression, bereavement, unemployment, and relationship issues. Further, results from this study also suggest that African American pastors attribute anxiety and depression to social and spiritual spheres of influence and endorse spiritual, social, and integrative coping strategies. Moreover, African American pastors seem to differentiate between adaptive and maladaptive forms of religious coping.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2013
African American, Counseling, Multicultural, Pastors, Religion, Spirituality
African Americans $x Mental health services
Mental health $x Religious aspects
Pastoral counseling

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