African-American Women and Depression

Stigma of mental illness: treating African American women for depressionPosted on July 28, 2010 by shlimentalhealth

Providers who successfully treat African-American women understand that treatment has to be personalized: contextually relevant to the client’s life. Black folks as a rule take extreme exception to being treated as “a case” of a diagnostic category. The quality of the interpersonal relationship regardless of the type of treatment is crucial to effective care outcomes.
One of the things that would help reduce the stigma of depressive illness is to more widely inform clients that: mild to moderate depression may be effectively treated with psychotherapy; and medication is more likely to be effective in severe cases of depression in concert with psychotherapy.
Our women need to know that therapy will help their unique and highly personal situation with clear benefits:
I can talk to somebody who will understand (my situation, race, religion, and family contexts).
I can change how I think view situations and think more positively in the moment.
I can learn about healthy options and practice preventative strategies.
I can practice new behaviors that will bring me peace of mind and/or social success.
I can get the emotional support that I need without burdening my family and friends.
I can learn to become more confident, empowered.
I can learn how to let go and let others do things for me sometimes.
I can feel worthy, unashamed, attractive, smart…
I can feel healthier, stronger, sleep better, eat wisely…feel well again.
More African-American women who have been successfully treated for depression need to have their stories publicized or shared among friends/family so that the word gets out: “I had issues and dealt with them. Hallelujah!”
Reference: Dr. Carlene Smith, Ph.D. 
Student Health and Counceling Services 
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