“We Pride Ourselves on Being Strong…and Able to Bear a lot”: Examining the Socio-Cultural and Historical Context of Black Americans’ Experiences with Depression and Help-Seeking
Research consistently shows that Black Americans’ symptoms of depression are more severe and persistent than their white counterparts yet they seek out and/or use services at a far lower rate. While trying to understand this disparity, it is important that researchers explore the socio-cultural and historical context around Black Americans’ experiences with depression and help-seeking. This study involved semi-structured in-depth interviews with 17 Black American men and women, aged 21-57, who experienced depression. A thematic analysis revealed that Black Americans’ experiences are often rooted in a socio-cultural and historical context where Black people are seen as a strong people, able to deal with anything, and do not get depressed. These findings suggest that Black Americans may go through a process of reconciling being depressed with certain aspects of their cultural identity as they strive to better understand themselves, their illness, and options to help alleviate their symptoms. Researchers and practitioners alike should pay more attention to this complex process as they attempt to understand the illness experiences and help-seeking behaviors of Black Americans.
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