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Background: Historically, African American women have been underserved, misdiagnosed, and underdiagnosed, and in many instances, this leads to numerous health and health care disparities that contribute to severe mental health illnesses and chronic health conditions (Nelson et al., 2022). African American women continue to experience substandard health outcomes compared to other ethnicities. African American women endure mental health inequities due to varying risk factors contributing to their underutilization of mental health services (Watson-Singleton et al., 2017). Regardless of the benefits associated with mental health services, African American women still resist engagement in mental health services. Research indicates that “African American women do not seek professional psychological services,” causing their mental health needs to be unaddressed and heightening their risk of psychological disorders (Watson & Hunter, 2015, p. 604). Their decreased engagement emphasizes the necessity of developing individualized support and a deeper evaluation of the intersection of their knowledge set, belief systems, strong Black woman ideology, religion, and cultural, socioeconomic, and environmental factors that contribute to their poor mental health outcomes. Community Engagement Efforts: The researcher conducted stakeholder interviews and partnered with Mt. Zion Baptist Church’s women’s ministry to engage participants in a questionnaire that explored varying factors that negatively and positively affect engagement in mental health service, thus providing insight into barriers to care. The study evaluated the effectiveness of a mental health video campaign focusing on increasing mental health literacy and awareness of mental illness. The mental health videos will assist African American women during different phases of the change process. Ambivalence is frequently a roadblock to overcoming psychological problems. The mental health videos are an additional tool that could assist African American women in further exploring their ambivalence as a critical step in the change process, especially in the precontemplation and contemplation stages (Miller, 2012). Utilizing the videos will assist with clarifying discrepancies between the contradiction of their perceived mental health status and their actual mental health needs. Most importantly, they will develop distinctions to elicit “change talk.” Conceptual Model: The conceptual framework in this innovation incorporates social exchange theory and the Black feminist thought perspective to form the development of the innovative Sister Exchange Connection Model. This model includes cultural identity, belief systems, biblical principles, socioeconomic and environmental factors, and the spirit of sisterhood and empowerment. Evaluation: This mixed-methods study will involve African American women aged 18 or older attending church-based women’s Bible study and participating in an innovative mental health video campaign to increase mental health literacy and help-seeking behaviors. The researcher will conduct pretest and post-test assessments and complete a 6-month follow-up to evaluate the effectiveness of the videos. Conclusion: This research will expand the development efforts regarding traditional and nontraditional therapeutic services and activities that assist African American women through the change process
A capstone project submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Doctor of Social Work
Social Work, Mental Health, African American Studies