Abstract: Resilence and Mental Health Among African Americans (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

Resilence and Mental Health Among African Americans

Friday, January 17, 2020
Congress, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
* noted as presenting author
Kenneth Taylor, MSW, PhD Student, Howard University, Washington, DC

The historical trauma of slavery has persisted and causes some African Americans to face mental health challenges that are related to racism.  Often the treatment involves meaning-making and the importance of strategies to address the disorders that are associated with disparate treatment in society.


This symposium addresses resilience in the African American community through a systematic review of literature.  The review plan included articles published in the social work literature between 2000-2019 (two decades).  The articles that were reviewed were identified by a database search based upon two terms: African Americans and Resilience.  The articles that emerged used both qualitative and quantitative research methods.  The review question was “what recommendations were made for practice (micro and macro levels) based upon the research?”  The author conducted an evaluative annotated bibliography on articles that focused specifically on African Americans, Mental Health, and Resilience.


Positive mental health outcomes are associated with resilience among African Americans.  The articles included research on childhood abuse, suicide prevention, gun violence, depression and included a range of populations including, children, low income African Americans, and African American fathers, and African American women. The articles primarily dealt with the psychological factors that were associated with resilient vs non- resilient persons.  Without regard to the population, the articles primarily addressed resilience as a micro intervention and limited attention was focused on macro practice implications. Implications for practice were not clearly indicated in many of the articles.  There was limited attention to addressing the social justice implications of mental health and resilience.


Mental health problems are widely associated with pervasive social justice issues for African Americans Americans. It is perhaps important for the resilience scales to include social justice questions related to race for African Americans.  Also, the role of stigma and resilience could be further explored.