Sociology | Advanced Topics in Sociology
S660 | 25452 | Jackson

Topic:  Race and Mental Health

This course will extend the student’s knowledge in the specialty area
of race and mental health.  In general, we will explore the social
facets of health and disease, the social behavior of health personnel
and those people who are consumers of health care.  We will pay
particular attention to the social contexts of health and illness
(with a consideration of international patterns of health and
illness).  Some of the areas covered include social disparities in
health, the experience of illness, and the environment of health.

We will begin by questioning the notion of race as a social category.
After reviewing the history of the concept of race, we turn to the
problem of conceptualizing mental health.  These two areas of research
are brought together in a consideration of the ways in which insanity
has been handled in African American client populations.  In this
section, we more clearly articulate the concept of “racial health.”

The next section of the class concentrates on theoretical models used
to examine the relationship between race and mental health.  The
models that have received the most attention are: social role and
social stress.  The emerging cultural and life course approaches will
also be discussed in some detail.  Although we review these
theoretical/empirical models, the questions we address here are: Are
thse models applicable to nonwhites?  If not, what models should we be
using to better understand minority mental health?  Thus, we end this
section with a consideration of the growing body of work that adopts
an ecological approach to the study of health and illness in society
and work by medical anthropologist on ethnomedicine.

We then move on to the social patterns of health and illness in
society.  Besides a consideration of race/ethnicity, we will focus on
the intersection of gender and class in further elucidating these
patterns.  This body of research is well-established but it continues
to suffer from certain biases.  We explore the biases in
tests/evaluation of clients, clinical diagnoses, decision-making
processes, and prescribing practices.  This literature is buttressed
by work on the history of minorities in medicine.

We conclude the class with a review of the literature on utilization
patterns.  Students are challenged to develop a strategy that will
decrease the growing health disparity between minorities and Whites –
speaking especially to those strategies that may or may not work well
for certain groups: children, adolescents, young adults, middle-aged
adults, older adults.