Challenges and Obstacles in Treating Mentally Ill African American Patients

As the United States becomes more culturally, racially, and ethnically diverse, psychiatry will be faced with the necessity to treat more diverse populations. This article focuses on challenges and obstacles encountered when treating African American patients with mental illness. The African American community in the United States is not a monolithic, homogeneous community. The heterogeneity of the community as a function of the African diaspora is complex and deserving of an understanding that goes beyond the phenotypic identification and assignment of individuals to what we believe to be “African American.”1 Language, ethnic culture (e.g., Caribbean vs southern born), religious practices, socioeconomic status, immigration or refugee status, and the historical participation, or lack thereof, in the unique American experience of race relations defines how persons experience being “African American” and express mental illness.

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Submitted by: Joyce Boaz
Submitted on: 20-Jul-2007