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Mental Health Stigma Among African Americans

Mental Health Stigma Among African Americans

While the experience of a Black person in the US varies, common cultural factors impact the definition of mental health and support healing, resiliency, and well-being. A part of this shared cultural expertise, such as the religious networks, reliance on community, expression through music or spirituality, values, and family connections, are enriching and may be used as a significant source of support and strength. However, there is also part of this shared experience, which is the issue of inequity, discrimination, and racism, that can have a major impact on a person’s mental health. When a person is perceived or treated as being less than others due to the color of their skin, it can be traumatizing and stressful. Also, Black community members face structural barriers when accessing the needed treatment and care (Rector & Stanley, 2019).

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (n.d) points out that black adults in the US have a higher likelihood compared to Whites to report persistent emotional distress symptoms such as hopelessness, sadness, and feeling as though everything they do and need requires additional effort. Blacks who live below the poverty line have a double likelihood of reporting serious psychological distress compared to those with financial security. Nonetheless, only 1 in every 3 black adults who are in need of mental care actually access the same. Blacks are also less likely to receive guideline-consistent care, less likely to be included in mental health research, and have a higher probability of using ERs or primary care than seeking a mental health specialist. This paper proposes a mental health campaign program that targets the Black community in Coral Springs, Florida, and which seeks to educate the population on the issue of mental health and the stigma associated with the same.

Stigma and Mental Illness

According to the American Psychiatric Association (n.d), mental illness is an issue that is approached with fear, confusion, and shame for many. The embarrassment that comes with accessing mental health services is a major barrier to accessing these services, as persons who are ill tend to hide their symptoms. People will oftentimes delay or avoid seeking help because of concerns over stigmatization. This is because discrimination, prejudice, and stigma against persons with mental illness is still a major problem. Stigma is most times due to fear or a lack of knowledge. Misleading or inaccurate representations in the media are contributors to these factors (APA, n.d). Discrimination, prejudice, and stigma against persons with mental illness can be obvious or subtle, both of which can lead to harm. People with mental illness are discriminated against and marginalized in several ways, but understanding what these appear to be and ways of addressing the same can help in eradicating stigma. Stigma also affects the loved ones of mental illness, including their family members. For example, among Blacks, the distrust of the mental health system can be a barrier to asking for help even as people attempt to avoid shame in the family.

Community Health Plan Strategies to Promote Health and Lifelong Learning 

Campaigning to End Mental Health Stigma

One of the strategies to raise awareness and stop mental health stigma is to have a running campaign that encourages people to embrace persons with mental health issues rather than discriminate against them. The campaign will not only target persons with mental health but also their family and friends in whom they confide. The campaign will ask the society to be more open and talk about how the loved ones are affected by mental illness and offer strategies and tips for carrying out difficult conversations about mental illness challenges. A documentary on mental illness will be run on the local television stations, and radio stations will carry out the same during the mental health awareness month (May). During the rest of the year, campaign representatives will lead coaching and education to make a direct connection with the community. Different community organizations will be encouraged to attend the coaching and education sessions at the healthcare centers and facilities with the aim of having attendees coach the same in their workplaces, social circles, and schools.

Religious Organizations as the Channels for Change

The Black community has a sense of family and spiritual bonds. Churches and places of spiritual gatherings play a very important part in the lives of Blacks. Churches also have a major influence on these communities, making for a good channel to spread the word on mental health and mental health stigmatization. Trained speakers from the campaign will request that church leaders attend free training and education, after which the latter will be tasked with teaching the congregants. Black community members will need to differentiate between mental illness and spiritual attacks from the devil. The trained church staff will help the congregants understand what mental illness is, where to get help and discourage stigma from others in the church community.

The church staff that will attend the training will become community ambassadors. These ambassadors will receive a toolkit comprising a presentation that they can present to the congregants and the community; a video on mental health stigma and its impact on the persons, their loved ones, and the community; stories of persons who have had mental illness and what they did or do to cope; flyers to hand out to attendees and talking points that will help the church leaders to focus on the message.

Identifying those in Need and Initiating Care Plan

Identifying persons who are struggling with mental illness is the first step to accessing treatment. The lead nurse in this program will need to connect with Blacks in the community who do not receive mental health care. Because mental health issues are a sensitive topic and culturally frowned upon, the healthcare facility running this campaign will have posters and flyers in the ER and the primary care physician offices to display the healthcare facility’s mental health App. These two areas will be targeted because, as mentioned, Black patients would rather visit the ER or primary physician than seek help from a mental health specialist. Once downloaded, the free App will guide a person to determine if they have a mental health issue and the next step to take to access health. The App will also have a list of the church leaders from whom they can access information on mental health. Also, the App will have links to mental health specialists at the healthcare facility who can be contacted virtually or through face-to-face appointments.

The care plan will be founded on caring for the patient, recognizing the value of non-traditional care, and building on a relationship that intertwines mental health treatment into daily life. Once a person has downloaded the App and enters the necessary information that allows for the App to categorize them as needing mental health assistance, the person will be linked to a specialist. The specialist will guide the patient through a series of clinical treatments and modifications of lifestyles while ensuring that the person receives the emotional support and medical attention they need.

Additionally, to ensure that the person and their loved ones do not feel stigmatized, a nurse will visit the patient at home to help them work towards stability and wellness in their lives. Doing so will allow for the development of a highly individualized approach to addressing the patients’ unique challenges. These include traditional medical aid, such as accompanying a person to an appointment with a mental health specialist, as well as non-traditional interactions and meetings, such as helping a person to move out of a home environment that is destructive or meeting in a space that the person is most comfortable with. Other interventions will include motivational interviewing that will support behavior change in a way that is in line with the patient’s values, assistance to care plan adherence, building confidence and feeling of being successful, and health education.


Blacks in the Coral Springs community face the same challenges as others in the country. A history of slavery and systemic racism has contributed to and continues to contribute to negative mental health outcomes in this population. Accessing mental health services is frowned upon. Spirituality, which plays a major role in the lives of most Blacks, can be used to help the community access mental health services. In this paper, the church leaders have been proposed as the change channels that can educate the community on mental health and stigma. The healthcare facility will also advertise its Mental Health App, which can be downloaded and which will help individuals access help.


American Psychiatric Association (n.d). Stigma, Prejudice and Discrimination Against People with Mental Illness.

National Alliance on Mental Illness (n.d). Black/African American.

Rector, C., & Stanley M.J. (2019). Community & public health nursing: Promoting the public’s health. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.


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Mental Health Stigma Among African Americans

In a 4-page paper, select a specific population and develop a specific health plan to include strategies to promote health and lifelong learning for all age groups within that specific population.

  • Use the 7th ed APA-the Professional format & headings are required. All levels may be needed.
  • Cover and reference pages are not included as part of the four pages.
  • No abstract required.
  • reference from an English titled, peer-reviewed nursing journal (less than 5 years old) and one from the course textbook.

Mental Health Stigma Among African Americans

Mental Health Stigma Among African Americans

Title: Community and Public Health Nursing
Author(s): Rector, C. (2019).
Publisher, Edition: Edition: 9th ed.
ISBN: 13: 978-1-4963-7625-1

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