Masculinities Matter: The Role of Masculinities in Depression, Suicide, and Substance Abuse Among African American, Hispanic/Latino, and Alaska Native/American Indian Boys and Men

by Wizdom Powell; Leslie B. Adams

Aug 1, 2017

The authors focus on African American, Hispanic/Latino, and Native American boys and men of color who face some of the most compelling health disparities and inequities in our nation. Given the significant amount of male mortality attributable to substance abuse, suicide, or depression, the authors address these three behavioral health outcomes. This focus is further supported by evidence documenting the notable amount of comorbidity between these behavioral health outcomes and other chronic diseases (e.g., cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer) linked to the disproportionate health disadvantage shouldered by BMOC.

  • Create a compendium of multidimensional measures to assist researchers, policymakers, and practitioners with accurate assessment of masculinities and various health impacts of masculinities.
  • We recommend investment and attention to positive masculinity measurement development among BMOC.
  • Investing in population-based and community- level epidemiologic studies examining both the social constructions of masculinities and their health impacts among AN/AI boys and men of color.
  • Increased research that capitalizes on mHealth or smartphone-based technologies to examine how BMOC enact masculinities in real time and the consequence of these enactments for the health status.
  • Supporting more research focused on how masculinities get beneath the skin of BMOC and the biophysiological pathways to health inequities/disparities that drive these associations.
  • There is less known about the mechanisms driving these associations, or how racism and masculinity interact to increase risk for depression, substance abuse, and suicide. We recommend more research in this vein.
  • We recommend more research that evaluates the process, outcomes, and impacts of interventions designed to reshape or overwrite toxic, and risk-promoting masculinity norms among BMOC. We also recommend more research on connections between positive masculinity enactment among BMOC and health risk avoidance.
  • Interventions should be developed that address trauma through a masculinities-focused lens within communities where young men reside.