An interesting link has been found with African Americans who regularly go to church and the fact that they are less likely to suffer mental health issues including depression and suicide.
These findings were the result of new research from Case Western Reserve University. The findings, recently published in the Journal of Community Psychology, were based on a national survey of 3,000 African American study participants. (The African-American ethnic distinction is defined as participants with family origins from Africa.)
Results of the study imply that good mental health can be closely related to being in touch with family and church members. For many African Americans religion is a form of support and having strong connections with family, friends and church members can be beneficial to mental health because they serve as a guard against a range of psychiatric problems, such as depression, suicide, psychological distress and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Some results of the African American’s surveyed found that people who had more contact with and who received more emotional support from family and church members had less depressive symptoms. In contrast, people who experienced more negative interactions with church and family members had more depressive symptoms.
Past research and studies on the subject of mental illness among African Americans has shown that African Americans have lower rates of depression than whites. However, despite being less prevalent, depression is more severe, chronic, persistent and disabling for African-Americans than for whites. These disparities constitute an excess burden of depression for African-Americans, according to the new research.
This most recent study was among the few that have been dedicated specifically to the mental health of African Americans and how it relates to social structures. It is hoped that studies like this will provide a better understanding of the causes and possible treatments for mental illness among African Americans.