Research Symposium

22nd annual Undergraduate Research Symposium

Samirah Abellard she/her/hers Poster Session 5: 1:30 - 2:15/Poster #64

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Hi! My name is Samirah and I am a second-year junior. I love to sing, dance, and if you can't find me, 9 times out of 10, I'm probably watching a Kdrama or Daria in my room. I have always been interested in helping others out, but when I first came to Florida State I wasn't too sure what to major in; however, when I took my first psychology class my first semester here, I absolutely fell in love with the field. As a child of Haitian immigrants, I have seen how certain factors have affected the Haitian community. I have seen those within the Black and Haitian communities struggle with stigmas and barriers that have affected their mental health and as a result, I hope to one day help those within both the Black and Haitian communities with their mental health and improve their access to mental health services.

Black Americans' Experiences with Therapy and Barriers to Mental Health Services

Authors: Samirah Abellard, Chélynn Randolph
Student Major: Psychology
Mentor: Chélynn Randolph
Mentor's Department: Human Development and Family Science
Mentor's College: College of Health and Human Sciences
Co-Presenters: Laura Arrieta


Disparities in racially and ethnically marginalized communities associated with mental health help-seeking have been a growing concern within the U.S. healthcare system. In attempting to seek out mental health therapy services, Black Americans have encountered individual, environmental, and institutional barriers. Although current literature involving mental health stigma and perceptions suggests that these barriers have resulted in the underutilization of mental health services by Black Americans, the experiences of Black Americans encountering these barriers has not been thoroughly examined. Prior research has indicated a need for more qualitative studies involving Black Americans within the mental health system. This study aims to recognize the issues faced by Black Americans when seeking and participating in mental health services, delineating the different barriers that deter them from services, and analyzing what factors aid in overcoming said barriers. By using a transcendental phenomenological qualitative design with comparison groups, we have been able to focus interviews on the description of participant’s experiences in encountering and potentially overcoming barriers when seeking mental health services, rather than implementing our own interpretation of such experiences. This research is beneficial in that it can assist researchers in developing effective interventions to destigmatize and mitigate the barriers associated with help-seeking.

Keywords: Black Americans, Mental health, disparities