Title: Reducing Stigma and Creating Community Partnerships to Decrease Mental Illness among African Americans
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It is estimated that approximately 26 percent of American adults experience mental illness in any given year. African Americans are disproportionally at risk for mental illness due to encountering environmental factors such as violence, poverty, institutional racism, and discrimination at higher rates than Caucasian Americans. Each ethnic and cultural group has their own beliefs and relationships surrounding mental illness and its treatment. Mental illness stigmatization is a leading barrier to members of the African American community obtaining mental health care. System’s theory explains how African American’s needs are at the periphery of the mental health care system and how this is detrimental to public health. Practicing cultural competency is an integral component to improving mental health care delivery to African Americans. Understanding and utilizing how this community prefers to cope with adversity, such as through the church, will give insight into how to reduce the prevalence of mental illness among the African American population. Forging partnerships between proponents of mental health awareness and leaders within the African American community will assist in bridging the gap between both groups.