Date of Conferral







Susan H. Marcus


AbstractThe purpose of this study was to qualitatively examine and explore African immigrants’ U.S. experience of mental health, mental illness, and help-seeking. Mental health, mental illness, and help-seeking are misunderstood public health issues. Indigenous cultural stigma concerning mental illness and help-seeking and mistrust of Western medicine inhibit African immigrants from reporting mental illness and seeking treatment. The segmented assimilation theory (SAT) and cultural risk theory (CRT) and interpretive phenomenological analysis (IPA) were used to guide data collection and analysis. Data were collected from a sample of 9 African immigrants who migrated from countries within the Five Main Regions of Africa to the U.S. using a semi-structured interview guide. The six-step data analysis method was used in this study as a guide to the thematic analysis. The themes associated with each research question were as follows: assumptions and expectations and experience of mental health, cultural experience of mental illness and participant occupation, meanings of help-seeking and subject of story, and importance of cultural understanding and dissatisfaction. The results of this study show how different traditional cultural beliefs are experienced in a foreign country and how culturally distinct immigrants struggled with risks and problems. The results of this research point to rigorous and meaningful recommendations for policy and practice, leading to positive social change including recruitment and training of psychologists who understand African immigrants and come from the same cultural background.