Michelle Teti, assistant professor of health sciences in the University of Missouri School of Health Professions, said the study explored resilience -- how individuals demonstrate positive mental health regardless of stress and adversity -- among poor black men living in urban areas.
The researchers interviewed the men to learn about societal stressors in their lives, including racism, incarceration, unemployment and surviving rough neighborhoods.
The study, published in Qualitative Health Research, found many of the men found ways to overcome adversity via five primary forms of resilience: perseverance, commitment to learn from hardships, reflecting and refocusing to address difficulties, creating supportive environments and obtaining support from religion and spirituality.
"Resilience is not a psychological trait that you either are born with or not; resilience can be taught and nurtured," co-author Lisa Bowleg, an associate professor in the School of Public Health at Drexel University in Philadelphia, said in a statement. "Accordingly, our findings suggest we can use resilience strategies to teach others how to better protect themselves and their sexual partners from risk despite some harsh social-structural realities."