Socio-Cultural Barriers to Care and Recovery Among Black Americans with Depression
Method: In-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 17 Black American men and women, aged 21-57, who had recently experienced depression. All interviews were audio-recorded with the participants’ permission using a digital recorder and transcribed verbatim. HyperResearch software was used to code and analyze the transcribed interviews and to detect relevant themes. The study was propelled by a grounded theory approach.
Results: Analysis suggested three socio-cultural barriers that impeded service engagement and recovery. These are: 1) conflict between racial/ethnic and illness identities, for example the idea that ‘strong black woman’ should not get depressed; 2) stigma in Black communities impeding service utilization; and 3) culturally-shaped ideas of “help” for depression, for example that religious practices like prayer (‘talking to God’) will help more than talking to a therapist.
Conclusions and Implications: This study is a detailed examination of the experience of Black Americans with depression. Not only does it give a voice to the oft silenced Black American depression sufferer, but it also highlights the importance of investigating a wider range of barriers to care and recovery among Black Americans with depression. It introduces important socio-cultural factors in the treatment and recovery process for clinicians to consider when working with a Black American clientele. It also offers areas to target for intervention to increase service rates and improve care and recovery among Black Americans with depression.