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Findings from Focus Groups with African Americans on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

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Presentation on theme: "Findings from Focus Groups with African Americans on the Mississippi Gulf Coast."— Presentation transcript:

1 Findings from Focus Groups with African Americans on the Mississippi Gulf Coast

2 Goals of the project:  Identify barriers to mental healthcare for underserved communities of color through nine community focus groups  Present findings to mental health providers, pastors and community organizations  and discuss possible strategies for overcoming identified barriers to credit launched the project to identify barriers and bridges to mental healthcare for underserved communities of color.

3 Project was supported by a grant from the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee Consultant to Project: ◦ Pat Callair, African-American mental health therapist, provided guidance and consultation on the project and wrote the report Facilitator for Focus Groups ◦ Jearlean Osborne, African-American, Community Organizer on the Gulf Coast Focus Groups and questions were modeled after a similar project conducted by a PhD student at Jackson State University in 2005

4  Nine focus groups were held between June and October  Sixty-three (63) participants, ranging in age from  Majority of participants were female

5 1. What do you consider are some reasons to seek services from a mental health facility? 2. What do you consider the reason why African-Americans under use mental health series? 3. When serious personal problems occurred in your life, how did you handle the situation?

6 4. What do you think about a person who needs mental health services and refuses to go? 5. What would be your reaction toward a family member seeking mental health services? 6. What would make seeking treatment easier or more comfortable for you? 7. What would make seeking treatment easier or more comfortable for you

7 8. What would frighten or embarrass you and stop you from seeking treatment? 9.In the past when a member of your family or friends has needed emotional help, how has it been handled? 10. Who provides Mental health services in your community?

8 There is a divide between the African American community and the traditional mental health system.

9  culture  language  misperceptions about the nature of mental health and mental illness  systemic discrimination  racism  fear of stigma

10  Mistrust of psychotropic medications.  Concern that drugs are used to manage and control African Americans.

11 Discover ways to bridge the mental health system to the African American Community so that the traditional system is experienced as a seamless member of the Community much like the African American Church. This is a tall order no doubt. But there are approaches that can assist in the process:

12  African Americans have relied on other resources when it comes to mental health problems – primarily relying on the Church

13 For generations the church has been the only resource for the pain and suffering that African Americans faced. Therefore mental health problems are often diagnosed and translated into spiritual problems Because of a strong faith tradition that exists within the African American Community, there is a sense that most problems can be healed with prayer and a belief in God.

14  Trained Paraprofessionals to Help with Service Delivery and Education

15 Trained Paraprofessionals  Paraprofessionals can be first responders in the event of a crisis.  Provide education to the community about the nature of mental illness and mental health

16 Educate Advise those in the traditional mental health system about the unique way of life in the African American community and how mental health and mental illness is understood and conceptualized. Policy Changes Recommend practical changes to policies and practices in the traditional system that makes services easier to access

17 De-stigmatize” Mental Health Problems Provide clear and factual information about the differences between mental illnesses like schizophrenia and bi-polar disease, and stress and emotional problems.

18 De-stigmatize” Mental Health Problems Provide education programs about the origins of mental disease, the nature of depression and anxiety and the risk factors that lead to them, thereby eliminating the stigma associated with mental health problems.

19 De-stigmatize” Mental Health Problems Develop wellness programs that help the community develop preventive strategies that might ward off stress, depression and anxiety.

20 De-stigmatize” Mental Health Problems  Develop a Common Language about Mental Illness and Mental Health

21  Control Costs The traditional system must offer creative low cost options that keep the doors open; as it offers high quality services to previously underserved groups that have been unable to afford the service.

22  Minimize Police as First Responders in Accessing Mental Health Services in the African American Community.

23  Graduate More African American Mental Health Professionals  The traditional mental health system can offer incentives for African Americans to study and become trained and licensed,

24 For more information : Roberta Avila Mississippi Coast Interfaith Disaster Task Force Executive Director 610 Water Street Biloxi, MS


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