Partnering with African American Churches to Create a Community Coalition for Mental Health

Ethn Dis. 2018 Sep 6;28(Suppl 2):467-474. doi: 10.18865/ed.28.S2.467. eCollection 2018.


Community partnered participatory research (CPPR) emphasizes community engagement, respect, and empowerment as guiding principles to promote mental health equity. This article describes the "Vision" stage of a CPPR-informed model to implement evidence-based practices for depression in two African American churches in Harlem, New York. Essential parts of the Vision include engagement of stakeholders and collaborative planning. The engagement process increased awareness about the project via a community-focused mental health symposium. The collaborative planning stage resulted in creating a multi-disciplinary Community Coalition for Mental Health, establishing the Coalition's values, agreeing to change the initial chosen study intervention from Interpersonal Counseling to Mental Health First Aid, and developing a website to disseminate the group's work. Key lessons learned from our partnered process are: 1) support from the lead pastor is crucial; 2) balancing community and academic interests can be challenging; 3) icebreaker activities foster relationships and reinforce CPPR principles; 4) multiple communication channels can enhance community participation; and, 5) should organize data in ways that make them easier to interpret.

Keywords: African American; Black Church; Community-based Participatory Research; Depression; Health Disparities; Mental Health First Aid.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Black or African American* / psychology
  • Black or African American* / statistics & numerical data
  • Community Mental Health Services* / methods
  • Community Mental Health Services* / organization & administration
  • Community Participation / methods
  • Community-Based Participatory Research
  • Counseling* / methods
  • Counseling* / organization & administration
  • Depression* / ethnology
  • Depression* / psychology
  • Depression* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Intersectoral Collaboration
  • Mental Health / ethnology*
  • New York
  • Religious Missions / organization & administration*
  • Social Support