Date of Conferral







Charles T. Diebold


While several studies examining African Americans' mental health rates appeared in the past, existing research does not describe internal and external factor influences on positive ethnic identity development and their mediating effects on mental health help-seeking attitudes for this population. This quantitative study used structural equation modeling to examine the relationships between 3 ecological levels (the individual level/level of bicultural identity, the family level/family ethnic socialization, and the social context level/self-concealment) and examine their collective influence on ethnic identity development and mental health help-seeking attitudes of African Americans. The choice of variables for this study was grounded in Stokols' social ecological theory, Lewin's theory of psychological fields, and Bronfenbrenner's ecological systems that outline human development. Results were measured by responses to surveys from 161 African American males and females residing within the Atlanta, Georgia area. The family and social level were more predictive of ethnic identity development and ethnic identity positively and negatively, respectively, related to bicultural self-efficacy. Having the ability to communicate in both mainstream and ethnic cultures was directly predictive of positive attitudes toward seeking professional help. The social change implications of this study included gaining insight into African Americans' difficulty with developing positive ethnic identity and mental health help-seeking, providing professional clinicians with a model of the process of ethnic identity and mental health help-seeking attitude development, and improved advancement in training and cultural-based interventions for clinicians specifically working with minority populations.