Abstract: An Exploratory Case Study of the Types of Resources Black Boys Use to Support Their Mental Health (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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115P An Exploratory Case Study of the Types of Resources Black Boys Use to Support Their Mental Health

Friday, January 13, 2023
Phoenix C, 3rd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Brittany Ribeiro Brown, Ph.D. Student, University of Michigan
Ed-Dee Williams, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor, MI
Jamie Abelson, MSW
Daphne Watkins, PhD, Professor, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Ann-Arbor, MI
Ash Chandrakapure, Undergraduate Student, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Background and Purpose:
Few studies examine the ways Black adolescent boys seek help for mental health challenges
and their preferences for mental health support. The lack of research on mental health
programming for Black boys is problematic, given the increased likelihood that they will
experience mental health challenges due to adverse life experiences such as racial
discrimination. Though family, peers, school educators, and staff all have the potential to be
systems of support for Black boys, they disproportionately face obstacles (e.g., access issues,
insurance status, stigma, and barriers such as mistrust of the medical system) to obtaining
mental health care when it is needed. This study uses a sample of Black boys at a high school in
southeastern Michigan as a case study to understand the types of resources Black boys might
use to support their mental health. This case study examines the mental health resources Black,
high school boys use in hopes of building additional resources.
This study uses an exploratory case study design (Yin, 2014). We recruited, screened, and
enrolled six Black male high school students to participate. Students from all grades were
invited to participate, five of the boys who participated were in their senior year of high school,
one was a sophomore, and their ages ranged from 15 to 17 years old. A 1-hour focus group was
conducted and recorded. The focus group questions and analysis focused on learning more
about where and how this specific group of Black boys used relevant resources to achieve and
maintain their mental health. The focus group data was transcribed into Microsoft Excel and
was analyzed using a rapid and accelerated data reduction (RADaR) technique (Watkins, 2017),
and classical content analysis.
The qualitative analysis resulted in four themes: online resources, community and trusted
individuals, self-reliance, and additional needs. Online resources was categorized into three sub-
themes: social media, websites, and entertainment media. This theme reflected the students
use of social media, online health literacy and the role celebrities have on their health and
wellbeing and support. Community and trusted individuals reflected the participants reliance on
community and trusted individuals for support. Self-reliance emerged as some boys disclosed a
distrust of others and a reliance on the self for psychosocial care. The final theme, additional
needs emerged as the boys were able to identify their psychosocial needs that are not being
met due to a lack of culturally tailored programs, messaging, education, and care.
Conclusions and Implications:
This case study is a springboard for further work to tailor a mental health education and
support interventions, such as the Young Black Men, Masculinities, and Mental Health (YBMen)
project (Watkins, 2019) for Black boys and for building additional support amid the multiple crises occurring that impact their mental health and safety. Findings have implications for
future research, practice, and policy to improve the mental health of Black boys in high school.