Examining help-seeking attitudes in African American collegians : the role of minority student stress, out-group comfort, cultural congruity, and counselor racial preferences




Jones, Bianca Joanvye

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In recent years, scholars have moved beyond attributing academic difficulties to cognitive and personal characteristics of African American students, and have begun to consider the effects of the predominantly White university (PWU) setting on the educational and psychological outcomes of Black collegians. Unfortunately, the literature paints a bleak picture of the social context of African American students at PWUs which ultimately impedes students' academic persistence and achievement (Gloria, Kurpius, Hamilton, & Wilson, 1999) as well as psychological wellness (Prelow, Mosher, & Bowman, 2006). The psychological ramifications of social and educational conditions for African American students at PWUs, along with higher attrition rates would substantiate the tremendous use of campus mental health services by this student population. Yet, the literature reveals that even when services are easily accessible and are provided for free or at extremely discounted prices, African American students choose not to seek professional psychological help (Nickerson, Helms, & Terrell, 1994). Drawing upon the psychosociocultural theoretical framework proposed by Gloria and Rodriguez (2000), this study examined if variables specific to the PWU environment - minority student stress, out-group comfort, and cultural congruity - served as predictors of attitudes towards seeking professional psychological help in a sample of African American collegians. This study also analyzed if counselor racial preference served as a mediator between the predictors and help-seeking. Survey data were collected from 198 Black college students attending a large, PWU in the Southwest. Results revealed that cultural congruity was the only significant predictor of help-seeking attitudes, and counselor racial preference was not a significant mediator. Exploratory analyses indicated gender differences in the relationship between the psychosociocultural variables and counselor racial preferences. Implications for practice and research in counseling psychology are discussed.



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