Date of Conferral





Counselor Education and Supervision


Jacqueline J. Jones-Cook


AbstractLow-income African American grandparents raising their grandchildren are faced with multiple challenges psychologically, financially, and emotionally. Four out of five African American custodial grandparents live below the poverty line and with mental problems, such as bipolar disorder, anxiety, schizophrenia, and depression. The main research question focused on the experiences of low income African American custodial grandparents, living with diagnosed mental health issues while raising their grandchildren, and dealing with a restricted access to mental health counseling services. Bowen family system theory was adopted as the theoretical framework, and a phenomenological-hermeneutic methodology was used. A total of seven low income, custodial African American grandparents with a mental health diagnosis were recruited by using a snowball sampling technique. The data analysis included sorting out interview data and coding into categories. Four themes emerged from the analytical procedure; grandparents are experiencing substantial emotional challenges, struggling with mental health problems without proper care, difficulties accessing needed mental health services, and financial problems facing the caregivers’ decisions regarding mental wellness services. This study’s social implications suggest the need for increased understanding, empathy, and cultural sensitivity and decreased barriers to mental health services for custodial grandparents and a need to eliminate those barriers. The findings recommend that enough and suitable interventions for treating custodial African American grandparents with psychological, mental, and emotional problems need to come from community engagement and policy changes at all government levels.