Black Women’s Perceptions of Black Men’s Depression

Principal Investigator:
Daphne C. Watkins, PhD (University of Michigan School of Social Work)

Funded by:
Institute for Research on Women and Gender (University of Michigan)

Project Goals and Approach:
Previous studies have recognized the important role that women play in the health knowledge and behaviors of men (Clements, Parry-Langdon, & Roberts, 2006; Gomez, 2006; Hale, Grogan, & Willott, 2004; Lyons & Willott, 1999). For instance, in their study on the portrayal of men’s health in women’s magazines, Lyons and Willott argued that society imposes a responsibility on women for the health of the men in their lives. Despite the advantageous roles of women in the healthy lives of men; however, previous studies have not adequately investigated black women’s knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors regarding black men’s depression. This study convened groups of black women (separated by household income) to discuss their experiences with black men’s depression; their knowledge and attitudes surrounding black male mental illness; and the barriers and facilitators to seeking treatment for depression among black men of various ages and backgrounds. The black female perspectives on black men’s depression will be essential in the development of interventions that aim to both inform and encourage black men to increase their knowledge about depression, reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness, and educate black men and members of their social support networks about the value of seeking treatment for depression. Focus groups were used to capture black women’s perceptions of black men’s experiences with depression. Eight focus groups occurred with a convenience sample of black women (n= 46) from southeastern Michigan. We convened: two for each of the three household income groups (less than $19,999, between $20,000 and $59,999, and over $60,000) and two with women from mixed income groups.


  • Watkins, D.C., Abelson, J. M., & Jefferson, S. O. (2013). ‘Their depression is something different… it would have to be:’ Findings from a qualitative study of black women’s perceptions of black men’s depression. American Journal of Men’s Health, 7 (4Suppl): 42-54. doi: 10.1177/1557988313493697


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