“We’re Seen as Human after We’re Dead”: Exploring Black Men’s Barriers to Expressing Psychological Distress

Prof Doc Thesis

Gysbertha, F. 2022. “We’re Seen as Human after We’re Dead”: Exploring Black Men’s Barriers to Expressing Psychological Distress. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology https://doi.org/10.15123/uel.8v51v
AuthorsGysbertha, F.
TypeProf Doc Thesis

Rationale: Research exploring Black male experiences of psychological distress is limited and is often analysed from a positivist paradigm, which does not offer insight into their nuanced and highly complex lived experiences. There needs to be an experiential understanding of the underlying issues from their perspective to address the long-standing barriers experienced by Black men when accessing mental health services and help-seeking.
Aims: To explore Black male experiential barriers to expressing psychological distress in the UK. The men’s shared experiences and meaning-making of those barriers are considered from systemic, social, cultural, and historical lenses to understand and contextualise the underlying mechanisms that shape their lived experiences and contribute to maintaining these barriers.
Method: Online, semi-structured, one-to-one interviews with six Black male participants based in London, UK. Their ages range from 27 to 35. A dual inductive-deductive approach to Thematic Analysis is utilised to analyse the data. The analytical process and the construction of themes are derived from critical theoretical frameworks and the study's underpinning epistemology.
Findings: Four overarching themes ‘Detrimental perceptions of Black manhood’, ‘Internal and external conflict’, ‘Strength in the face of adversity’, and ‘Redefining Black manhood’ were constructed from the data, demonstrating several complex, multi-layered, and interrelated barriers. Masculine ideologies, systemic violence and oppression, adopted individualism and collective disconnection, and lack of Black representation are identified as macro-level barriers. Internalised stereotypes and emulating strength, fear of stigma and judgement, and ancestral attachment were identified as micro-level barriers.
Conclusion: The findings demonstrate that barriers to Black men expressing psychological distress are created and maintained through systemic strategies, experiences of oppression and racial trauma, social constructs, intergenerational trauma, cultural and individual belief systems, contextual factors, and their social network. The participants reflected on factors that could help overcome these barriers by exploring the barriers. Implications for Counselling Psychology, mental health services, and policy are discussed in the latter part of the study.

KeywordsBlack men; psychological distress; masculinity; racism; racial trauma
PublisherUniversity of East London
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.15123/uel.8v51v
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Publication dates
Online11 Jan 2023
Publication process dates
Submitted04 Sep 2022
Deposited11 Jan 2023
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License: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
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