African American Men’s Beliefs About Mental Illness, Perceptions of Stigma, and Help-Seeking Barriersedit
Little is known about African American men’s beliefs about mental illness. A descriptive qualitative study, using the common sense model (CSM), examined African American men’s beliefs about mental illness, perceptions of stigma associated with mental illness, and barriers to help-seeking. A total of 17 community-dwelling African American men participated in individual interviews. Dimensional analysis guided by the CSM showed most of the men identified mental illness causal factors consistent with the biopsychosocial model of mental disorders. They believed mental illness is a chronic disorder having negative consequences and reported experiencing barriers to help seeking. In contrast with previous studies, most men in the present study did not perceive stigma associated with mental illness and did not identify stigma as a barrier to help seeking. They were open to help seeking, were optimistic about professional treatment, encouraged others to seek treatment, and expressed strong interest in mental health research. Implications for counseling psychology research and practice are discussed.