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Attitudes and Beliefs about Mental Health treatment among older adults of color suffering from depression: the impact of stigma

A/Professor Kyaien Conner

Depression among older adults is a major public health concern leading to increased disability and mortality. Less than 3% of older adults utilize professional mental health services for the treatment of depression. And despite similar rates of depression, racial minorities are significantly less likely to seek, engage and be retained in professional mental health services than their white counterparts. Cultural differences in the way depression symptoms are manifested, defined, interpreted and labelled may in part explain some of these racial differences in help-seeking behaviours.  Focus group methodology was utilised to collect qualitative descriptive data to identify and explore the attitudes and beliefs about depression and mental health treatment among 42 older African Americans who had recently suffered a major depressive episode.

Psychotherapy Meets Africa
7th World Congress on Psychotherapy
25-29 August 2014, Durban, South Africa
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Kyaien Conner
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VideoAttitudes and Beliefs about Mental Health treatment among older adults of color suffering from depression: the impact of stigmaKyaien Conner12'32"

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A/Professor Kyaien Conner

Dr. Kyaien Conner, LSW, MPH, PhD is an assistant professor in the department of Mental Health Law and Policy. Her research investigates the factors that influence disparities in mental health service utilization and treatment outcomes for African American elders with depression. For several years Dr. has worked as a licensed community-based mental health practitioner in predominantly low-income African American communities, where she witnessed disparities in mental health diagnosis and treatment, mistrust in the mental health service delivery system and negative attitudes toward seeking mental health treatment. Dr. Conner received her PhD at the University of Pittsburgh in Social Work. Before coming to the College of Behavioral and Community Studies she was an assistant professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Dr. Conner completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic (WPIC) at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in their Clinical Training in Geriatric Psychiatry Program.

Dr. Conner is currently the PI of a K23 funded by the National Institute of Mental Health. The purpose of the K23 is to enable Dr. Conner to develop the skills necessary to achieve her long-term goal, which is to become an independent clinical mental health services researcher, focusing on developing and testing effective, culturally relevant interventions to help engage and retain older adults in multi-session psychosocial treatments for mood disorders. Her K23 project involves integrating an effective treatment for late life depression (cognitive behavioral therapy) with effective, culturally relevant strategies to engage and retain older adults in mental health treatment. What is most exciting about this project is the utilization of peer educators to provide the engagement intervention, which is innovative and culturally compatible with the beliefs and preferences of African American elders.

Dr. Conner has received a number of awards and honors for her work in the field of aging. In 2008, Dr. Conner received the GIAging Fellowship Award from Grant makers In Aging for her research with depressed elders of color. In 2009, Dr. Conner was selected by the National Institute of Health to be a participant in their Loan Repayment Program in the Health Disparities Program. And in 2009, Dr. Conner was selected to be a partner in the New Ventures in Leadership program sponsored by the American Society on Aging..

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