Aging and Systems: The Development of a Black Single Mother
SWG 502: Macro Human Behavior in a Social Environment
“Depression is a complexity of symptoms such as feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, loss of appetite, psychomotor retardation, feelings of worthlessness and guilt, and sleep disturbances” (Atkins, 2015). Depression is a serious problem that does not discriminate and is especially common among black single mothers like Ms. Adkins. Although depression is high among single mothers, it is particularly prevalent among African American single mothers where 47% to 70% report mild to severe depression (Atkins, 2015). This paper will explore the history of depression in the developing life of Ms. Adkins, a 70yr old African-American woman who I met through a colleague of mine and was open to discussing her honest life experience through the lenses of a black single mother who suffers from depression. This paper will also discuss the barriers she faced to quality mental health and Erikson’s Theory of Psychosocial Development.
According to the 2011 US Census Bureau, 72% of black mothers are unmarried. Historically, Black women have a long history of being associated with single motherhood (Gray, 2015). Ms. Adkins talked a bit about her family history and threw in how much colonization and slavery can be connected to the deconstruction of the Black family unit where Black men were dehumanized while black women were separated with their family. The black women in Ms. Adkins’ family were mostly unmarried so she did not see too many father figures present. “While it is important to note that some Black mothers are single by choice for a variety of reasons, Black families are impacted by disparities in education, mass incarceration, and lack of jobs for black men” (Ruggles, 1994). This put Ms. Adkins in the position of a matriarch of the family and act as both man and woman while her efforts and femininity were devalued which affected her relationship with self, her children, and those around her. She grew up knowing that as a black single mother, no matter how hard she worked to build and keep her family together, her efforts would still go unnoticed and underappreciated.
There are a number of stressors that single mothers face that contribute to their depression. However, most of the research done specific to African American single mothers mostly talk about poverty and the absence of the Black man in the home and neglect to discuss other hardships they experience that contribute to depression. A sample of 50 single mothers were selected to explore social, emotional, and economic issues they face (Katwol &Prabhakar, 2005). Although, finances was the number one cause of stress, 72 % of the women were affected by their lack of confidence, 46 % by their lack of identity, and 80% by their monotonous routine, lack of social life and loneliness (Katwol &Prabhakar, 2005). Ms. Adkins had learned over time, that with all that she...