Predictors of Receipt of Counseling Services from Religious Leaders in African American Church Populations
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African Americans (AAs) are disproportionality affected by mental health issues. They are more likely to experience chronic depression, greater impairment from depression, and serious psychological distress than the general population. However, AAs are less likely to seek mental health services than Whites. The Black Church is a key institution of influence in the AA community. AAs have the highest rate of church attendance among all racial/ethnic groups in the United States and the Black Church has the potential to increase the reach of mental health services and address related concerns for parishioners and community members served through outreach ministries. Studies suggest that AA pastors/religious leaders have significant influence on church populations’ health and that many may provide counseling services to their church and community members. Yet, few studies exist on who is using counseling services and why these services are being sought in faith-based settings. The present study examined predictors of receipt of counseling from a pastor/religious leader among AA church affiliated populations. Using baseline data from a larger study, Project FIT (Faith Influencing Transformation), a cardiovascular disease/diabetes health promotion intervention piloted in 6 AA churches in the Kansas City metropolitan area. Participants were primarily female (69%), church members (90%), with an average age of 54 (SD = 13). Findings indicated that 50% of participants reported receipt of counseling. Preliminary analyses indicated that education and several religious behaviors (e.g., frequency of thoughts of God, prayer, meditation, church attendance, reading scripture/holy writings, and direct experiences with God) were significantly related to receipt of counseling. Regression analyses indicated that only education was a marginally significant predictor in the model. Future studies should examine how education and religious behaviors may impact receipt of clergy counseling in AA churches. Implications for the design of mental health interventions for AA church populations are discussed. Future research should also examine frequency of help-seeking behaviors both in the AA church as well as outside the church.
Table of Contents
Introduction -- Methodology -- Result -- Discussion -- Appendix