Abstract: Does Adherence to Masculine Norms Predict Depressive Symptoms in Black College Men? (Society for Social Work and Research 22nd Annual Conference - Achieving Equal Opportunity, Equity, and Justice)

743P Does Adherence to Masculine Norms Predict Depressive Symptoms in Black College Men?

Sunday, January 14, 2018
Marquis BR Salon 6 (ML 2) (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
* noted as presenting author
Janelle Goodwill, MSW, Doctoral Student, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor, MI
Daphne Watkins, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, An arobr, MI
Jacqueline Mattis, PhD, Professor, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor, MI
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Empirical research has examined depression and masculinity in Black college men as two separate, unrelated factors that may influence a myriad of health outcomes (Mincey et al., 2014; Watkins et al., 2007; 2008). To date, no studies have examined whether masculinity and masculine norms can serve as a predictor for depressive symptoms in Black college men. This is important for researchers and practitioners to consider, as Black males often face challenges when transitioning to college, which increases their likelihood of reporting poorer mental health and well-being outcomes compared to their peers (Barry, Jackson, Watkins, Goodwill & Hute, 2016). Health and social service professionals may face challenges when intervening with Black college men if they do not consider the intersections of their masculine norms and depressive symptoms.  Therefore, the current study aims to deepen our understanding of the relationship between adherence to masculine norms and rates of depressive symptoms among a sample (N=97) of Black men enrolled at three colleges in the Midwest. 

METHODS: The independent variable of adherence to masculine norms was measured using a revised version of the Conformity to Masculine Norms Inventory-46 (CMNI— Parent & Moradi, 2009), which includes 6 subscales (e.g., emotional control, primacy of work, disdain for homosexuals, self-reliance, playboy, and winning).  The outcome variable was depressive symptoms, measured using the PHQ-9, a popular measure of depressive symptoms in community-based research, and the Gotland Male Depression Scale, a less well-known measure. Linear regression analyses were run to explore whether greater adherence to masculine norms led to higher rates of depressive symptoms among our sample of Black college men.

RESULTS: Study findings revealed that Black college men who had a greater desire to win reported lower rates of depressive symptoms. In contrast, men who were more self-reliant and had a stronger sense for emotional control reported higher rates of depressive symptoms. Homophobia was also found to be negative predictor of depressive symptoms among men in the sample. Thus, the results imply that there are factors of hegemonic masculine norms that can both protect and promote depressive symptoms among Black college men.

Various indices of masculinity were found to be differentially associated with each measure of depression. For example, four of the CMNI subscales were significant when using the PHQ-9 as the outcome variable of depression, while only two of the subscales were significant when testing the Gotland Male Depression Scale as the outcome depression variable. These findings indicate that each of the measures captures different aspects of the intersection between depressive symptoms and masculine norms.

CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: Findings from the current study provide insights for both researchers and practitioners, as changes in intervention design and implementation could be modified to better serve the needs of Black college men. Therapeutic approaches could also be tailored to incorporate relevant aspects of masculinity. Additionally, further consideration should be given to appropriateness of measures used to uncover and treat depression within this typically underserved population.