School of Behavioral Sciences


Doctor of Education in Community Care and Counseling (EdD)


Scott Duane Edgar


Pentecostal, stigma, mental health, Church of God in Christ, African American pastors, Pentecostal pastors


Counseling | Social and Behavioral Sciences


The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore how Pentecostal pastors can reduce the stigma of mental health in African Americans in the Church of God in Christ churches in Northwest Georgia. The theory guiding this study is phenomenology based on Edmund Husserl’s theory as it explains the lived experiences of African American Pentecostal pastors and stigma within the African American community. The research questions for this study were: How do the perceived beliefs of African American pastors affect the way stigma and mental health illness are treated within the church?, How do Pentecostal beliefs affect help-seeking behavior for mental illness?, and How do African American pastors’ views of their role of leadership affect or overshadow how mental illness is presented in the church? Data collection consisted of semistructured, open-ended interviews with eight participants. Interviews were recorded and transcribed by the researcher utilizing Zoom and word processing software. The systematic data analysis method of Huberman and Miles was utilized to organize the data, analyze the data for theme creation, and provide a written description of results. The themes identified for this study were: (a) challenges facing the church, (b) beliefs about mental illness and stigma in the church, (c) help-seeking behavior of Pentecostals, (d) leadership roles in the church, and (e) collaboration between pastor, church, and community. Pentecostal pastors can reduce the stigma of mental health in the African American community by addressing the whole man or woman in a holistic manner.

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