African-American Women's Health and Social Issues

By Catherine Fisher Collins | Go to book overview

self-help techniques of African-American women in depression require further investigation.

Jackson ( 1993) examined the relationship between depression and income, education, age, social support, marital status, attitude toward mate, and role strain in African-American women. While these risk factors have been studied extensively by other researchers, they have not been examined solely in the context of African-American women and depression. Jackson utilized a sample of women who were economically diverse. This economic diversity is important because criticisms ( Williams, 1986) have been launched about the effect of the predominance of low-economic women in fear of attempts to generalize the findings from those samples to the general population. Jackson reports that the best predictors for depression were younger women with less marital satisfaction and low income. On the other hand, unmarried women with less social support and more role strain reported more depression. There is a need to examine the interactive effects of these risks. Others assert that "the assessment, diagnoses, treatment, and prevention of mental health problems in minority women require special sensitivity" ( Barbee, 1992, p. 257).


CONCLUSIONS

This work represents neither a complete review of the literature on African-American women and depression nor of the entire body of depression research that includes African-American women in the samples. It does, however, indicate that an understanding of African-American women and depression can be gleaned only through a rather eclectic literature representing a mixture of literature reviews, specific studies of African-American women, community surveys not specific to African-American women, epidemiological studies of national samples of African-Americans to determine the prevalence of mental illness, studies of depression with comparisons of African-American women with other ethnic women groups, general discussions on approaches to mental health for African-Americans, and studies of comparisons of African-Americans in general with other ethnic groups.

While this eclecticism is a reflection of considerable effort, research on African-American women and depression could probably best be described as having been thwarted by attention to white women and depression with the attendant effect of little attention to the agony of depression in other women, especially African-American women. It also appears to represent an unguided, shotgun approach to the study of depression in African- American women.

What is clearly missing, therefore, is the type of concerted and sustained effort begun in the 1970s by feminist psychologists and psychiatrists, who

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