Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


African Americans-Mental health, African Americans-Mental health services, Discrimination in mental health services, Stigma (Social psychology), Mental illness-Social aspects, ALSO Cornerstone (New Haven, Conn.), Stigma


This qualitative research study sought to explore the effect mental illness has had on the lives of African Americans, the language these individuals employ to describe their experiences, and how African Americans' experiences with racial discrimination have informed how they view their psychiatric diagnoses. The study sample included seven individuals who (a) were English-speaking (b) were males or females 18 years of age and over (c) self-identified as African American (d) carried a primary diagnosis of schizophrenia or schizophrenia-spectrum disorders or any major affective disorder (e) and were in current stable mental health. Interviews with study participants were conducted in person on an individual basis and lasted anywhere between 20 to 60 minutes. The major themes which emerged from these interviews include the following: (1) mental illness as labeling and stigmatizing; (2) issue of normalcy; (3) mental illness occurring within the context of other life stressors; (4) acceptance of diagnosis; (5) support from others; (6) experience of racial discrimination; and (7) differences in experiences between whites and blacks.




iii, 58 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2009. Includes bibliographical references (p. 48-50)