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Publication Date


First Advisor

Joyce Everett

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School for Social Work


Social work, Mental health, Deinstitutionalization


This study explored Bulgarian social worker’s attitudes toward the mentally ill and the Bulgarian state policy of deinstitutionalization of mental health treatment and social care. Social workers are a major stakeholder in the deinstitutionalization process and a major source of support for the mentally ill, however, research on Bulgarian social workers’ attitudes is scarce.

Eighteen Bulgarian social workers from psychiatric treatment facilities and social care agencies were interviewed individually and audiotaped. Thematic analysis of interview transcripts yielded ten final themes. Participants described the mentally ill as abandoned by society and their own families, stigmatized, and in need of intensive, varied and mostly practical support. Participants perceived the deinstitutionalization process as stalled because no change had taken place. Participants indicate that there were not enough effective services in the community. According to the participants, their job was difficult, but it was worth it. Implications of these findings for future research, practice, policy, and education were drawn.


©2021 Dimitar Andreev Germanov. Access limited to the Smith College community and other researchers while on campus. Smith College community members also may access from off-campus using a Smith College log-in. Other off-campus researchers may request a copy through Interlibrary Loan for personal use.




iii, 216 pages. Includes bibliographical references (pages 170-196)