Solutions to the Challenges Faced by Black Males the Focus of Forthcoming Journal Issue

Jul 25, 2023

As the United States marks National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, counseling and education scholars are calling for improved educational, career and mental health support for Black men and boys.

In a special forthcoming issue of the Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, a journal of the American Counseling Association (ACA), counseling and education researchers describe the distinct educational, vocational, psychological, social, and health challenges that many Black men and boys face, due to systemic racism and discrimination. They also offer specific recommendations to mental health and school counselors and other school and non-school professionals on helping Black males overcome the many systemic obstacles that they confront daily.

In an introduction to the special issue, guest editors Isaac Burt, Ph.D., of Johns Hopkins University, Erik M. Hines, Ph.D., of George Mason University and James L. Moore III, Ph.D., of The Ohio State University emphasize that Black men are strong, brave and resolute in the face of rampant racism and negative stereotypes. The special issue aims in part to offer counselors strategies that focus on the strengths of Black males rather than deficits; improve their mental, physical and spiritual health; and bolster their academic and career success, they write.

  • Julia Bryan, Ph.D., and colleagues from The Pennsylvania State University discuss their study into the motivational differences between Black male and female high school students exploring college. The results show that Black male high school students are more likely to pursue college when they face high expectations and practical guidance from school counselors, while females are motivated when they feel safe and accepted at school.
  • Edward C. Fletcher Jr., Ph.D., of The Ohio State University details a culturally relevant magnet program that helps Black male high school students prepare for college and careers in engineering.
  • Donna Y. Ford, Ph.D., of The Ohio State University and her colleagues report on the systemic biases, including culturally biased testing, that leave Black boys overrepresented in special education and underrepresented in advanced learning programs.
  • Michael D. Hannon, Ph.D., of Montclair State University in New Jersey and colleagues discuss their study into the rewarding experiences and challenges faced by Black men engaged in otherfathering, a term used to describe mentoring youth in their communities. Their research showed men experience strong mental health and well-being from otherfathering, despite challenges such as balancing their mentoring activities with family obligations.
  • A team led by Otis Williams III, Ph.D., of Bowie State University in Maryland discuss a treatment model that uses an African-centered framework designed specifically for counseling Black males incarcerated for drug use.
  • Keiana Winters, Ph.D., of Saint Xavier University and her colleagues report on research showing the special difficulties that Black male military veterans face post-deployment. They cite the need for counselors who specialize in helping Black veterans reintegrate into society.

“A focus on Black men and boys is long overdue,” Carla Adkison-Johnson, Ph.D., the journal’s editor and a professor at Western Michigan University, said about the special issue. “The counseling profession has yet to place the mental health needs of African Americans and African American males at the forefront of training, research and clinical practice.

“Educators, helping professionals, and court officials can incorporate these findings in their everyday practice,” Adkison-Johnson added. “The hope is that they finally start to do things differently and affirm and promote the humanity of Black men and Black boys.”

Read Adkison-Johnson's editorial on the Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development website. The full special issue will be published in October.

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: To schedule an interview with members of the research teams, please contact ACA at

Founded in 1952, the American Counseling Association (ACA) is a not-for-profit, professional and educational organization that is dedicated to the growth and enhancement of the counseling profession. ACA represents nearly 60,000 members and is the world’s largest association exclusively representing professional counselors in various practice settings. Driven by the belief that all people can benefit from the power of counseling, ACA’s mission is to promote the professional development of counselors, advocate for counselors, and ensure that ethical, culturally inclusive practices protect our members’ clients and all people who seek counseling services.