This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

An Exploration of the Relationships Among Depression, Womanist and Racial Identity in African American Collegiate Women




Simpson, Caroline

Type of Degree



Counseling Psychology
Counselor Education
School Psychology


Available evidence suggests that women face an increased vulnerability to depression because of economic instability, isolation, and constricting forces associated with traditional beliefs about the roles of women (Graveline, 1990). Although depression is reported to be one of the more common mental health problems among women in Western countries (Nolen-Hoeksema, 1990), relatively little research attention has been paid to women’s accounts of their experiences with depression, especially African American women. Even less is known about the experiences of the segment of African American women who are attending “predominantly white institutions” (PWIs) of higher education. This study examined African American collegiate women’s levels of racial and womanist identity development, and the relationships of their development on these v dimensions with depression. It was of particular interest to discover how African American collegiate women understand, experience, and cope with feelings of distress and how these experiences are constructed in relation to ideals of the dominant culture and sub-cultures, and to campus climate. The study was designed to increase our understanding of environments, social contexts, and the meanings attached to life situations by African American collegiate women. While the limited sample size prevented findings of significance among the targeted variables, the study contributes to our understanding of social context and the experiences of African American collegiate women.