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Title: Staying strong : exploring experiences of depression and anxiety in Black Caribbean women in the UK
Author: Graham, Rachel
ISNI:       0000 0004 7425 6922
Awarding Body: University of the West of England
Current Institution: University of the West of England, Bristol
Date of Award: 2018
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The image of the Strong Black Woman (SBW) is a western cultural construct that depicts Black women as strong, self-reliant, independent, yet nurturing and self-sacrificing, putting others’ needs before their own. Research in the US has indicated that this image negatively impacts on the emotional well-being of Black African heritage women by increasing depressive and stress symptoms, and acting as a barrier to help-seeking for emotional support (Beauboeuf-Lafontant, 2007, 2008; Watson & Hunter, 2015). The image of the SBW, and how it shapes the emotional wellbeing of Black women, has not been explored in the UK context. This is problematic, since very little is known more broadly about how this group of women experience and manage mental health problems. The current study began the process of addressing this omission by exploring Black Caribbean women’s experiences of mental health issues. Using five focus groups with a total of 18 participants, the study explored how a sample of Black Caribbean women within the UK, experience and manage symptoms of depression and anxiety in relation to the SBW image. Thematic analysis of the focus groups data revealed that participants had an ambivalent relationship with the SBW ideal; they rejected it, describing it as mythical, whilst simultaneously embracing its strength component. The importance of ‘being strong’ consistently underpinned the participants’ narratives. For many, strength and resilience were viewed as necessities to survive a society which they regarded as racist. However, despite the perceived functionality of ‘strength’, many illustrated how this strength impacted upon their ability to effectively cope with symptoms of anxiety and depression, leading them to deal with these symptoms in restrictive and sometimes unproductive ways, such as somatization. The findings from this study offer implications for understanding Black women’s experiences of mental health problems. Furthermore, they also increase awareness of the SBW image for mental health professionals, and demonstrate the impact this image can have on Black women.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Couns.Psych.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: depression