Georgia State University Study Examines Risk and Protective Factors for Depression in Black Men

A new study by researchers at Georgia State University in Atlanta finds that although White Americans are more likely that African Americans to have a major depressive disorder, Black men are more likely than their White peers to experience depressive symptoms. The study found that Black men report an average of eight depressive incidents per month. Some 11 percent of Black men reported 16 or more depressive symptoms each month, a cutoff often used to estimate for clinical-level depression.

“The factors that contribute to the mental health of African-American men are consistent with research on the factors that are important for the psychological well-being of the general population — coping resources, stress exposure and economic conditions,” said Mathew Gayman, an associate professor in the department of sociology at Georgia State and the lead author of the study. “However, African-American men report, on average, fewer coping resources, greater stress exposure and poorer economic conditions than the general population. It is the systematic disparities in these factors that contribute to race inequalities in psychological health.”

The researchers found that self-esteem and mastery (how people perceive control over things that happen to them) play an important role in mitigating the negative psychological harm associated with lower-income neighborhoods. Family support also was found to buffer the harmful mental health effects of stress exposure for Black men.

The study, “Risk and Protective Factors for Depressive Symptoms Among African American Men: An Application of the Stress Process Model,” was published in The Journals of Gerontology, Series B. It may be accessed here.

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