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Contemporary Mental Health Issues Among African Americans.

Contemporary Mental Health Issues Among African Americans

Harley, D. A., & Dillard, J. M. (Eds.) Alexandria, VA: American Counseling Association 2005, pp. 336, $54.95

As can be noted by the title of this book, its aim is exactly that: to provide the reader with current mental health issues affecting and related to African Americans. Harley and Milton have edited this text, which sheds new light on contemporary issues pertinent to the promotion of positive mental health of African Americans in a variety of contexts with pragmatic applications for counselors and other mental health professionals.

This text is arranged into four sections: Current Issues, Special Issues, Community, and Application. The Current issues section begins with a chapter by Dillard that sets the aim and theme of the text. Dillard (2005) states "our aim in this book is to promote positive mental health among African Americans" (p. 13), which, after review, has been clearly and thoroughly achieved. This section goes on to include topic areas of family, men, women, and marital status of African Americans. The Special Issues section includes focused discussions on HIV/AIDS; substance abuse; bi/multiracial identity; lesbian, gay, and bisexuals clients; and mental health issues pertinent to elderly populations. Topics covered under the area of Community include important considerations of African Americans communities: public and mental health, violence, gangs and crime, the Black church, cultural considerations (e.g., characteristics of African American populations relevant to service providers and factors related to counseling this population), and views of mental health counseling by members of the African American community. Section IV, Application, discusses how to apply the aforementioned concepts into practice through the topic areas of community mental health services, interventions for counseling African Americans with disabilities, children and adolescents, ethics, and spirituality/religion in the counseling process. Dillard concludes the text with summary statements and suggestions for future research.

The dominant theme that asserted itself throughout this book was that of positive mental health, or resiliency, which was used to view current mental health issues among African Americans. Harley and Dillard have amalgamated a skillful list of contributors, each with numerous accomplishments in the field, to emphasize this goal of positive mental health, which was thoughtfully and thoroughly executed.

Another subtle theme that was weaved throughout this text was that of the Black church and its importance in resiliency for the mental health of African Americans. Harley highlights this aspect in the chapter entitled "The Black Church: A Strength-Based Approach in Mental Health." My only major point of contention in this book lies within Harley's (2005) statement that "Islamic communions represent a growing presence in the United States and must be included in any discussion of faith communities that affect the African American community. African American Muslims represent the largest single ethnic group of American Muslims--about one third of the American Muslim Community" (p. 193). It is unfortunate that this topic received no further discussion throughout the text, although spirituality, the Black Church, and indigenous aspects of mental health received full length chapters of devotion.

This edited text by Dr. Harley, Professor in the Department of Special Education and Rehabilitation Counseling and the Women's Studies Program at the University of Kentucky, and Dr. Dillard, Professor in the Department of Educational and Counseling Psychology at the University of Louisville, is an important contribution to the field because it provides valuable insights about counseling and understanding African Americans and their mental health concerns. This text will lend its usefulness to a variety of counseling professionals, counselor educators, and mental health service providers. As a graduate student in rehabilitation counseling I feel that I have gained a much greater appreciation and understanding of current issues related to the mental health of African Americans and would recommend this book for any graduate level course on multicultural counseling.

Jeffrey M. Moore

Rehabilitation Counseling graduate student

Bowling Green State University
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Author:Moore, Jeffrey M.
Publication:The Journal of Rehabilitation
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jul 1, 2005
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