New Study Offers Insight on Impact of Masculinity on the Mental Health of Gay Black Men

A recent study conducted by University of Kentucky College of Social Work researcher Keith J. Watts, Ph.D., discusses the social construction of masculinity and the implications it has on the mental health of gay Black men.

The study published in the Journal of Gay & Lesbian Mental Health found that masculine identity is associated with both positive and negative mental health outcomes among gay Black men.

For some, being perceived as masculine enables them to navigate and manage the societal challenges related to being both Black and gay. Others feel that perceptions of masculinity exacerbate their existing trauma resulting from experiencing the world as Black men.

“Among the most fascinating findings that emerged from this study were the participants’ simultaneous understanding of masculinity as both a fictional social construction affixed to all individuals assigned male at birth, and as a very real social identity that has had tangible positive and negative impacts on their lived experiences,” said Dr. Watts “This contradiction illustrates the highly contextualized and complex nature of social identities.”

“A glimpse into the everyday challenges of navigating such complexities helps us understand the explicitly expressed need for community spaces that center the unique experiences of gay Black men, and for mental health practitioners who are familiar with and prepared to engage these intersectional experiences,” Dr. Watts said.

Watt’s study was conducted in collaboration with Kia J. Bentley, Professor at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Social Work.

About the College of Social Work

For over 80 years, the University of Kentucky College of Social Work has been a leader in social work education. Our mission is clear: Through rigorous research, excellence in instruction, and steadfast service, the College works to improve the human condition. Always, in all ways. To learn more about the College of Social Work, visit socialwork.uky.edu.

Media Contact

Crystal Barnes
crystal.barnes@uky.edu
859-257-7251

College of Social Work Study Examines Effect of Intimate Partner Violence on Employment of Mothers With Young Children

Results of a new study from the College of Social Work at the University of Kentucky indicate mothers experiencing intimate partner violence (IPV) are significantly more likely to be unemployed if they have a three-year-old child. The study is published in Work, Employment and Society.

Using advanced statistical modeling of secondary data to determine employment trajectories, researchers found mothers experiencing IPV when their child is three years of age are significantly more likely to be unemployed six years after the abuse occurred.

“There is a lasting effect on mothers’ employment status when they experience IPV at this critical time,” said lead author Kathryn Showalter, PhD, of the University of Kentucky College of Social Work. “Employers should explore ways to support women with young children who are experiencing IPV so that they can maintain employment. Something as simple as asking survivors if they are okay can make a big impact.”

Other authors on the study include Susan Yoon, PhD, of the Ohio State University College of Social Work in Columbus, Ohio and TK Logan, PhD, of the University of Kentucky Department of Behavioral Science in Lexington, Kentucky.

About the College of Social Work

For over 80 years, the University of Kentucky College of Social Work has been a leader in social work education. Our mission is clear: Through rigorous research, excellence in instruction, and steadfast service, the College works to improve the human condition. Always, in all ways. To learn more about the College of Social Work, visit socialwork.uky.edu.

Media Contact

Crystal Barnes
crystal.barnes@uky.edu
859-257-7251