Abstract for: Interdependencies of Faith and Mental Health among Black Millennials in a U.S. City

Mental health and injury burdens of suicide have increased across recent years – including among younger African Americans, while faith community memberships have been decreasing over time. Yet, faith community engagement is protective in preventing death by suicide. Black millennials engagement in faith communities (those born after 1980 to early 2000s) in the US has similarly varied: while one particular community may retain – even grow – its young adult members, other Black faith communities report to be losing younger members over time. Our work-in-progress describes how faith, mental health, and health practices interrelate among African American young adults. We identify culturally responsive protective factors (i.e., perceived community support, practice of prayer) and risk factors (stigma) of mental illness among the faith-engaged African American young adult community. We identify causal patterns leading to the there being more or less Black millennials with positive mental health within a faith community system over time. Themes resulting from qualitative descriptive analysis of semi-structured interviews with Black millennials in a northeastern U.S. city are summarized in a causal loop diagram. This is a first step in model building of the complexity due to mental health status of “church-going” African American millennials, and features of faith communities experienced.