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Despite hardships, black men in urban communities are resilient, MU researcher says
Date:7/2/2012

COLUMBIA, Mo. --Black men, especially those living in low-income, urban areas, face many societal stressors, including racial discrimination, incarceration and poverty. In addition, these men have poorer health outcomes. Now, a University of Missouri faculty member has studied these men's efforts to negotiate social environments that are not designed to help them attain good health and success.

"Too often, researchers focus on Black men's weaknesses rather than their strengths," said Michelle Teti, assistant professor of health sciences in the MU School of Health Professions. "By understanding what's working, we can reinforce those positive behaviors and help men make healthier choices."

The study explored resilience--how individuals demonstrate positive mental health regardless of stress and adversity--among low-income Black men living in urban areas. Through interviews, the researchers learned about societal stressors in the men's lives, including racism, incarceration, unemployment and surviving rough neighborhoods. Despite these hardships, many research participants had found ways to overcome their adversities through five primary forms of resilience: perseverance, commitment to learn from hardships, reflecting and refocusing to address difficulties, creating supportive environments and obtaining support from religion and spirituality.

"Resilience is not a psychological trait that you either are born with or not; resilience can be taught and nurtured," said Teti's co-author and principal investigator of the study, Lisa Bowleg, an associate professor in the School of Public Health at Drexel University in Philadelphia. "Accordingly, our findings suggest we can use resilience strategies used by men in our study to teach other low-income Black men how to better protect themselves and their sexual partners from risk despite some harsh social-structural realities."

Teti and Bowleg say community members and government official
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Contact: Jesslyn Chew
ChewJ@missouri.edu
573-882-8353
University of Missouri-Columbia
Source:Eurekalert

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