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Research Presented at 2022 ISDC

22 July 2022 |

Children’s Institute's former student intern, Victoire Alleluia Shenge, now a graduate student at the University of Maryland, and Executive Director, Ann Marie White, virtually presented their community-based participatory research project at the 2022 International Systems Dynamic Conference (ISDC) in Frankfurt, Germany. The project was led by Victoire with other student collaborators (Leslie Kaze, etc.), and the presentation title was "Interdependencies of Faith and Mental Health among Black Millennials in a US City." Link to YouTube Video of Presentation

ISDC Presentation Slide: Progress, Insights, Questions with causal loop model diagram

Mental health and injury burdens of suicide have increased in recent years – including among younger African Americans, while faith community memberships have been decreasing over time. Yet, faith community engagement is protective in preventing death by suicide. Black millennials' engagement in faith communities (those born after 1980 to the early 2000s) in the US has similarly varied: while one particular community may retain – even grow – its young adult members, other Black faith communities report to be losing younger members over time. Our work-in-progress describes how faith, mental health, and health practices interrelate among African American young adults. We identify culturally responsive protective factors (i.e., perceived community support, the practice of prayer) and risk factors (stigma) of mental illness among the faith-engaged African American young adult community. We identify causal patterns leading to there being more or less Black millennials with positive mental health within a faith community system over time.  Themes resulting from qualitative descriptive analysis of semi-structured interviews with Black millennials in a northeastern U.S. city are summarized in a causal loop diagram. This is a first step in model building of the complexity due to the mental health status of “church-going” African American millennials, and features of faith communities experienced.

The International System Dynamics Conference (ISDC) is an annual event where people from all over the world interested in the practice of System Dynamics and systems thinking gather. Now in its 40th year, these conferences introduce newcomers to the field, keep practitioners aware of current developments, and provide networking opportunities. Participants are from business, universities, K-12 education, not-for-profits, government, consulting, the healthcare sector, and beyond. The 2022 ISDC theme was “Diversity”.

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