Increasing Community Engagement to Meet the Challenges of Mental Health Disparities In African American Communities

Authored by: Edward V. Wallace

The Ashgate Research Companion to Black Sociology

Print publication date:  September  2015
Online publication date:  March  2016

Print ISBN: 9781472456762
eBook ISBN: 9781315612775
Adobe ISBN: 9781317044024


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It is estimated that by 2053 nearly half of the US population will be composed of people of color (Carrington 2006). With this growing rate of diverse groups public health practitioners, health educators and researchers need to understand that Eurocentric views may, at best, not be relevant or, at worst, not be adequate to address the mental health needs of people of color. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encourages mental health agencies to utilize community-based approaches to eliminate health disparities (Martin et. al. 2009). Community-based approaches include measuring knowledge and attitudes toward depression, identifying possible signs of depression and seeking help for depression from friends and family—these are effective in reducing mental health disparities in the United States (National Mental Health Association 2000). According to the CDC, community-based interventions build upon the collective strength and resources of communities in the fight against depression. The result is a greater potential for success because interventions are centered on cultural competency and are appropriate for individuals living in those communities (Goodman et. al. 1998).

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