Author's School

Brown School of Social Work

Author's Department

Public Health

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Originally Published In

Motley, R. & Banks, A. (2018). Black males, trauma, and mental health service Use: A systematic review. Perspectives on Social Work, 14(1), 4-19.


Objective: To systematically review the evidence of and synthesize results from relevant studies that have examined barriers and facilitators to professional mental health service use for Black male trauma survivors ages 18 and older.

Methods: A thorough search of selected databases that included EBSCO, ProQuest, and Web of Science Core Collection and careful consideration of inclusion and exclusion criteria yielded a final six studies for detailed review.

Results: Black male trauma survivors were significantly less likely to be utilizing mental health services than other sex-ethnic groups. High levels of daily crises, a lack of knowledge of steps to obtain services, and service eligibility issues were significant individual barriers to mental health service use for Black males, whereas social support, occupational disability, and PTSD symptoms severity were significant facilitators for mental health service use.

Conclusion: Exposure to trauma, whether through witnessing or direct victimization, is often a daily reality for many Black males. Findings from this review suggest that 56-74% of Black males exposed to traumatic events may have an unmet need for mental health services. Future research examining the relationship between trauma and mental health service use for Black men and factors that moderate and/or mediate this relationship is warranted.


Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Robert Motley, MSW, George Warren Brown School of Social Work, Washington University in Saint Louis, 1 Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO 63130. 314-226-8119/Fax: 314-935-8511,

Conflicts of Interest Robert O. Motley, Jr., and Andrae Banks received predoctoral fellowship funding from the National Institute of Mental Health. The content of this article is solely the responsibility of the author and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute of Mental Health or the National Institutes of Health.

Robert Motley ORCID: