Date of Conferral







Susan Rarick


African Americans are 10% more likely than non-Hispanic Whites to report having serious mental health issues from psychological stressors. Mental health concerns, such as depression and anxiety, that arise from psychological stressors, are more than likely to go untreated in African Americans. African Americans are more likely to turn to religion- their church, their pastors, and fellow parishioners to address these concerns. Religion and religious coping has influenced African Americans’ attitudes regarding help-seeking and mental health treatment, with the “Black Church” historically being a source of many things, including mental health care. Pargament’s theory of religious coping served as a theoretical framework to look at how religion and religious coping affected help-seeking attitudes as well as symptoms of depression and anxiety in African American Christians. How ambivalence over emotion expression (AEE) interacted with and moderated the relationship between religious coping and symptoms of depression and anxiety was also analyzed. Multivariate multiple regression was used to analyze the relationship between the variables positive religious coping, negative religious coping, AEE, help-seeking attitudes, and symptoms of anxiety and depression in African Americans. Positive religious coping had no significant interaction with help-seeking, symptoms of anxiety, or symptoms of depression. Negative religious coping was significant in predicting symptoms of anxiety and symptoms of depression, but not help-seeking attitudes. AEE moderated the relationship between positive religious coping and symptoms of anxiety and depression. Potential implications for social change from this research could be an increase in cultural competency for practitioners and help close the gap on the disparities between African Americans and non-Hispanic Whites in relation to mental health.