Improving Mental Health of African and Black Americans



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Culturally responsive Service with African American Clients
Dr. Dawn-Elise Snipes, PhD, LPC-MHSP, LMHC
Executive Director, AllCEUs.com
Objectives
– Explore the culture, values and traditions of African Americans
– Identify issues and barriers which need to be considered to provide culturally responsive treatment
– Learn about how to provide culturally responsive group psychoeducation

– African Americans or Blacks are people whose origins are “in any of the black racial groups of Africa”
– The term includes
– Descendants of African slaves brought to this country against their will
– More recent immigrants from Africa, the Caribbean, and South or Central America
– many individuals from these latter regions, if they come from Spanish-speaking cultural groups, identify primarily as Latino

– In most African American communities, significant alcohol or drug use may be socially unacceptable or seen as a sign of weakness even in communities where the sale of such substances may be more acceptable.
– Overall, African Americans are more likely to believe that drinking and drug use are activities for which one is personally responsible; thus, they may have difficulty accepting alcohol abuse/dependence as a disease 
Treatment Issues
– African Americans are less likely than White Americans to receive treatment for anxiety and mood disorders, but they are more likely to receive treatment for drug use disorders
– In one study evaluating posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among African Americans in an outpatient mental health clinic, only 11 percent of clients had documentation referring to PTSD, even though 43 percent of the clients showed symptoms of PTSD
– African Americans are more likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia and less likely to be diagnosed with affective disorders than White Americans, even though multiple studies have found that rates of both disorders among these populations are comparable
–  African Americans are about twice as likely to be diagnosed with a psychotic disorder as White Americans and more than three times as likely to be hospitalized for such disorders. 
–  For an overview of mental health across populations, refer to Mental Health United States, 2010 (SAMHSA 2012a).

– Diverse participants learn content more effectively if they can create a coherent narrative about the topic or process presented. That’s the brain’s way of weaving it all together.
– Have them create skits or role plays
– In outreach break them into similar groups (i.e. parents, pastors)
– Have them relate it to something they already know (i.e. the bible, Quoran, a piece of literature or a current event)
Summary
– Explored the culture, values and traditions of African Americans to include communalism and the importance of spirituality for many clients
– Identify issues and barriers which need to be considered to provide culturally responsive treatment including ineffective assessment tools, lack of insurance or transportation and lack of awareness of the types and benefits of counseling services
– Learn about how to provide culturally responsive group psychoeducation including how to teach to the collective culture in a multicultural group and how to be an effective group facilitator.
– Learned about a variety of evidence based practices demonstrated to be effective with African Americans.

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