Date of Conferral







Rhonda Bohs


African American men are disproportionately more likely to live with untreated mental health challenges; the incidence of mental illness in African Americans is, per capita, 30% higher than among non-Hispanic Whites. African American men experience significant barriers and deterrents to psychological help seeking, which are primarily due to internalized stigma. The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study was to explore and describe African American men’s experiences that influenced internalized stigma regarding seeking and using traditional mental health services. The theoretical framework included the theory of social stigma and minority stress theory. Nine purposively selected African American men from the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States were interviewed. Coding and thematic analysis revealed that the participants believed there was more stigma associated with mental health problems in the past compared to the present but that prejudice and racism created stress that constituted a barrier to seeking help. Participants reported that displaying emotions was perceived as a sign of weakness and should be hidden. Participants also noted that mental health providers were mistrusted authority figures due to a history of institutionalized discrimination and racism in the United States. However, help seeking through the church felt comfortable for participants. Practitioners may use the findings to develop strategies to address stigma, which may result in positive social change through equitable mental health care services for African American men.

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