Reality TV Therapy: Implications for Mental Health Stigma and Service Utilization among African-American Adolescents



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University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work


The literature has documented the presence of mental health stigma in African-American communities. Researchers have investigated the impact of this stigma on treatment seeking behaviors for different sub-groups of African-Americans. Recently, a number of reality television (RTV) programs with African-American casts have broadcast episodes where their main characters engage in mental health counseling to address a range of concerns. While there have been some investigations into the impact of television programming on a number of youth behaviors, research has not yet explored the impact of these RTV programs on mental health stigma and service utilization among African-American teens. This paper suggests that examining the influence of this form of RTV programming may have noteworthy implications for addressing mental health stigma and African American adolescent mental health service use, and references some implications for social work practice with this population.



Perspectives on Social Work, Reality TV Therapy, Zuleka Henderson, Perspectives on Social Work, Reality TV Therapy, Social work