Date of Award

Spring 5-28-2022

Document Type

Doctor of Nursing Practice Final Manuscript

Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Practice



First Advisor

Michael Terry, DNP, FNP, PMHNP

Second Advisor

Christopher Amoah, MPH


Purpose: The purpose of this project was to increase mental health literacy, assess stigmatizing attitudes, and increase help seeking behavior in leadership within an African American church.

Background: The Black church has historically been a central institution for community support and leadership within these churches are often ill equipped to address the mental health needs of congregants. African Americans underutilize mental health services and are reported to have more chronic mental illnesses. Lack of mental health literacy may result in difficulty recognizing the risk factors, signs, symptoms, and treatments related to specific mental illnesses.

Evidence Based Intervention and Methods: Participating leaders received a 75-minute presentation along with a discussion on specific mental health terms included in the Mental Health Knowledge Questionnaire (MHKQ) along with the Perceived Devaluation and Discrimination Scale (PDD). Pre and posttest surveys were used to assess improvement in mental health knowledge and assess the presence of stigmatizing attitudes. Confidence to recognize mental health disorder and refer to treatment was also assessed.

Results and Conclusions: Data were collected before and 6 weeks after the presentation. Participants noted an increase in mental health knowledge, confidence, and likeliness to refer to treatment. Participants identified lack of knowledge and cultural implications as major causes for low help seeking behavior. Increasing literacy directly within this community seems to be a promising step toward prevention, early intervention, optimizing diagnosis, and treatment of mental illness in underserved populations.