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Psychiatric Disorders Among Older Black Americans

Within- and Between-Group Differences

About the Course

Psychiatric disorders impose significant personal, social, and financial costs for individuals, families, and the nation. Despite a large amount of research and several journals focused on psychiatric conditions, there is a paucity of research on psychiatric disorders among Black Americans (i.e., African Americans and Black Caribbeans), particularly older Black Americans. The present literature review examines research on psychiatric disorders among older Black Americans and provides a broad overview of research findings that are based on nationally representative studies. Collectively, this research finds: (1) older African Americans have lower rates of psychiatric disorders than younger African Americans; (2) family support is not protective of psychiatric disorders, whereas negative interaction with family members is a risk factor; (3) everyday discrimination is a risk factor for psychiatric disorders; (4) both older African Americans and African American across the adult age range have lower prevalence rates of psychiatric disorders than non-Latino whites; (5) Black Caribbean men have particularly high rates of depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, and suicide attempts; and (6) a significant proportion of African American older adults with mental health disorders do not receive professional help. This literature review also discusses the “Race Paradox” in mental health, the Environmental Affordances Model, and the importance of investigating ethnicity differences among Black Americans. Future research directions address issues that are directly relevant to the Black American population and include the following: (1) understanding the impact of mass incarceration on the psychiatric disorders of prisoners’ family members, (2) assessing the impact of immigration from African countries for ethnic diversity within the Black American population, (3) examining the impact of racial identity and racial socialization as potential protective factors for psychiatric morbidities, and (4) assessing racial diversity in life-course events and their impact on mental health.

This course is based on the reading-based online article, Psychiatric Disorders Among Older Black Americans: Within- and Between-Group Differences created by Robert Joseph Taylor, Ph.D., MSW and Linda M. Chatters, Ph.D. in 2020.

Publication Date:

Innovation in Aging, 2020, Vol. 4, No. 3, 1–16

Course Material Authors

Course Material Authors authored the material only, and were not involved in creating this CE course. They are identified here for your own evaluation of the relevancy of the material this course is based on.

Robert Joseph Taylor, Ph.D., MSW

Robert Joseph Taylor, Ph.D., MSW is the Harold R. Johnson Endowed Professor of Social Work and the Sheila Feld Collegiate Professor of Social Work at the University of Michigan School of Social Work in Ann Arbor, MI. He is also the Director of the Program for Research on Black Americans at the Institute for Social Research. Professor Taylor has published extensively on the informal social support networks (i.e., family, friends, and church members) of adult and elderly Black Americans. Robert Joseph Taylor has been principal investigator of several grants from the National Institute on Aging that examine the role of religion in the lives of Black and White elderly adults. He has been co-principal investigator with James Jackson on several grants from the National Institute of Mental Health on the correlates of mental health and mental illness among Black Americans, including the only major national study of the prevalence of mental illness among Black Americans (The National Survey of American Life). He has edited two books, Family Life in Black America (1997) and Aging in Black America (1993) with James S. Jackson and Linda M. Chatters. He is also the lead author of the book, Religion in the Lives of African Americans: Social, Psychological, and Health Perspectives (2004) with Linda Chatters and Jeff Levin. He is the founding editor of African American Research Perspectives and has reviewed manuscripts for over 60 different journals.

Linda M. Chatters, Ph.D.

Linda M. Chatters, Ph.D. is a professor in the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, School of Public Health and professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Michigan School of Social Work in Ann Arbor, MI.. She is a faculty associate with the Program for Research on Black Americans at the Institute for Social Research and the Center for Research on Ethnicity, Culture and Health. The focus of Dr. Chatters' research is the study of adult development and aging in relation to the mental and physical health status and functioning of older persons in a variety of social contexts (i.e., the family, church, and community). She is also interested in religious involvement among African Americans and the independent effects of religious, personal, and social status factors on personal well-being. Dr. Chatters' research is supported by grants from the National Institute on Aging. Dr. Chatters is a Fellow, Behavioral and Social Sciences Section of The Gerontological Society of America and has been designated by Thomson-ISI as a Highly Cited Researcher in the Category of General Social Sciences. Dr. Chatters co-edited Family Life in Black America (1997) and Aging in Black America (1993) and is co-author of the book, Religion in the Lives of African Americans: Social, Psychological and Health Perspectives (2004).

Course Creator

Elizabeth Mosco, Ph.D., PMH-C, CPLC

Elizabeth Mosco, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in Reno, NV. She opened a private practice after 10 years of conducting home-based assessment and therapy with the VA Sierra Nevada Health Care System. Dr. Mosco’s clinical interests include maternal mental health, older adults, and third wave cognitive behavioral therapies.

Recommended For:

Counselors, marriage and family therapists, psychologists and social workers. This course is appropriate for all levels of knowledge.

Course Objectives:

After taking this course, you should be able to:

  1. Summarize the prevalence of psychiatric disorders in African Americans, particularly older African Americans.
  2. Summarize the Environmental Affordances Model.
  3. Discuss how discrimination impacts the mental health of African Americans.
  4. Compare the regional differences of psychiatric diagnoses and service utilization among African Americans.

Disclosure to Learners

Disclosure of Relevant Financial Relationships

CE Learning Systems adheres to the ACCME's Standards for Integrity and Independence in Accredited Continuing Medical Education. Any individuals in a position to control the content of a CE activity – including faculty, planners, reviewers, or others ― are required to disclose all relevant financial relationships with ineligible entities (formerly known as commercial interests).

The following relevant financial relationships have been disclosed by this activity's planners, faculty, and the reviewer:

Planners and Reviewers

The planners of this activity have reported that they have no relevant financial relationships.

Commercial support

There is no commercial support for this distance-learning course.

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Course Number 103248
1.5 CE credit hour
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  • Reading-Based Online
Exam Fee $8.96
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