African American Health and Wellness: Part 2

Dimensions of African American Health (Edwards, 1999)

  • Ideological/Beliefs – possessing a sense of spirituality, including the need for a belief in God and being in touch with a greater power or Supreme Being, having a strong cultural identity, and being proud of one’s cultural heritage, being practical and having common sense
  • Moral Worth – showing self-respect, positive self-esteem, demonstrating a sense of honesty, and responsibility and being true to oneself and others; expressing true respect and compassion for others
  • Interpersonal style – communicating and interacting well with others to develop, maintain and strengthen healthy relationships; being assertive and able to demonstrate respect for others while still expressing oneself and one’s true feeling
  • Competence – having capacities such as intelligence, being flexible and resilient, pursuing educational growth and possessing skills to survive
  • Determination – being determined and demonstrating the capacity for willpower and self-control, including being goal oriented
  • Unity – maintaining or possessing a sense of inner peace; having good self-knowledge and understanding; as well as striving to be one’s best
  • Health/Physical – being in good physical health, including having a healthy diet, taking care of one’s appearance and appreciating one’s own sense of beauty

Approaches to Studying the Mental Health of African Americans

  • Service utilization data – has been used as an indicator of psychopathology. Current service use data offers limited info about differences in actual rates of psychopathology between cultural groups
  • Epidemiological studies – better for understanding psychopathology rates than service utilization studies. It is the study of the rates of the incidence and prevalence of health/mental health conditions in population. Can help to explain similarities and differences between ethnic and racial groups in types and rates of psychopathology
  • National Survey of Black Americans – provides mental health info on African Americans. Provides opportunities to examine within-group differences of mental health issues among African Americans

Africultural Coping (Utsey et al., 2000) – an effort to maintain a sense of harmony and balance with the physical, metaphysical, collective/communal, and the spiritual/psychological realms of existence.”

  • Cognitive or emotional debriefing – adaptive reaction to manage perceived environmental stressor. It might involve having a discussion with a supervisor about a coworker who is contributing to racial stress
  • Spiritual-centered coping – based on a sense of connection with spiritual elements in the universe and with the Creator. It could involve connecting to one’s higher power and praying as a way of dealing with racial stress.
  • Collective coping – group-centered activities. This could be getting together with other African Americans and discussing and planning an activity.
  • Ritual-centered coping – use of rituals to manage a stressful situation. It might involve rituals such as playing certain types of music and lighting candles to deal with stress