The research of Ann Nguyen, PhD, Assistant Professor, who joined the Mandel School faculty in 2017, illuminates the connection between social relationships and mental health among African Americans.
Her work not only demonstrates how our connections with family, friends, and church members can be beneficial to our mental health, but also how these same connections can sometimes be a source of stress and negatively impact our mental health. Our relationships with others can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, they can protect against a range of psychiatric problems like depression, suicide, and psychological distress. On the other hand, when we experience conflicts in our relationships, otherwise known as negative interactions, these relationships can become stressful and eventually lead to or exacerbate mental illness.
For instance, Dr. Nguyen’s research has found that negative interactions with family and church members is linked to obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Thankfully, for most people negative interactions tend to be infrequent, and positive interactions tend to far outnumber negative interactions.
Recent publications by Dr. Nguyen about this research:
- Chatters, L. M., Nguyen, A. W., Taylor, R. J., & Hope, M. O. (2018). Church and family support networks and depressive symptoms among African Americans: Findings from the National Survey of American Life. Journal of Community Psychology. 2018 May;46(4):403-417. doi: 10.1002/jcop.21947. Epub 2018 Jan 12.
- Nguyen, A. W., Chatters, L. M., Taylor, R. J., Aranda, M. P., Lincoln, K. D., & Thomas, C. S. (2017). Discrimination, serious psychological distress, and church-based emotional support among African American men across the life span. The Journals of Gerontology: Series B. doi:10.1093/geronb/gbx083
- Himle, J. A., Taylor, R. J., Nguyen, A. W., Williams, M. T., Lincoln, K. D., Taylor, H. O., & Chatters, L. M. (2017). Family and Friendship Networks and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Among African Americans and Black Caribbeans. The Behavior Therapist, 40(3), 99-105.
- Nguyen, A. W., Taylor, R. J., Chatters, L. M., Taylor, H. O., Lincoln, K. D., & Mitchell, U. A. (2016). Extended family and friendship support and suicidality among African Americans. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol, 1-11. doi:10.1007/s00127-016-1309-1
- Nguyen, A. W., Chatters, L. M., Taylor, R. J., Levine, D. S., & Himle, J. A. (2016). Family, friends, and 12-month PTSD among African Americans. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol, 51, 1149-1157. doi:10.1007/s00127-016-1239-y