Life Events and Their Impact on The Mental Health of Young Black Men: A Qualitative and Quantitative Study

Principal Investigator:
Daphne C. Watkins, PhD

Funded by:
(Former) Center for the Study of Health Disparities, Texas A&M University

Project Goals and Approach:
Although it is presumed that men who acquire a college education will also achieve middle-class status, middle-class status does not provide Black men with the anticipated reductions for some health risks. Black men who attend predominately white institutions (PWIs) are reported to face many obstacles such as racism, isolation, alienation, and lack of support compared to Black men who attend historically Black colleges/universities (HBCUs). Formative research methods were used to obtain information about stressors of Black college men and how these stressors influence their mental health and health behaviors.

In this mixed methods study, focus groups captured men’s understanding of mental health and their stressful life events while a questionnaire was used to obtain general health information, including depressive symptoms (i.e. feeling sad, nervous, hopeless, and worthless). Results suggest that there are no major differences between the health of Black college men at a PWI and a HBCU; however, men at each institution experienced different levels of psychosocial stress as a function of their academic settings. Future research should explore the mental health of Black college men more thoroughly and include an in-depth exploration of how their mental health influences their health practices.


  • Watkins, D.C., Green, B.L., Goodson, P., Guidry, J., & Stanley, C.A. (2007). Using focus groups to explore the stressful life events of black college men. Journal of College Student Development48(1): 105-118. 
  • Watkins, D.C., & Neighbors, H.W. (2007).  An initial exploration of what ‘mental health’ means to young black men. Journal of Men’s Health and Gender4(3): 271-282. 
  • Watkins, D.C, Green, B. L., Rivers, B.M., & Rowell, K.L . (2006). Depression in black men: Implications for future research. Journal of Men’s Health and Gender3(3):227-235. 
  • Watkins, D.C. (2006). The depressive symptomatology of black college men:  Preliminary findings. Californian Journal of Health Promotion,4(3):187-197.

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