Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Preventionindicate that Black Americans are twice as likely to die of COVID-19, compared with white Americans. Their communities have also been hit disproportionately by job losses, food insecurity and homelessness as a result of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, racial injustice and high-profile police killings of Black men have amplified stress. During the summer of 2020, amid both the pandemic and Black Lives Matter protests, a CDC survey found that 15% of Black respondents had “seriously considered suicide in the past 30 days,” compared with 8% of white respondents.
For a variety of reasons, many African Americans face barriers to mental health care. But as a sociologist who focuses on community-based organizations, I find that strengthening relationships between churches and mental health providers can be one way to increase access to needed services. In research with my collaborators Eunice Wong and Kathryn Derose, I analyzed data on the prevalence of mental health care provisionamong religious congregations and found that many African American congregations offer such programs.