Date of Award


Document Type

Capstone Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Social Work


Sociology, Anthropology, Social Work and Public Health

First Advisor

Donald Schweitzer


In any given year, one in four adults experience a diagnosable mental health disorder. Research indicates that these individuals are more likely to struggle with unemployment, lower income, diminished self-image, lower self-esteem, and have fewer social supports. According to modified labeling theory, this creates a nearly unavoidable fate of social isolation as these individuals are more likely to withdraw, thus diminishing their sense of community, overall well-being, and quality of life. However, research suggests that a sense of community can help reduce isolation, protect from psychiatric relapses, and increase self-esteem. Additionally, reducing internalized stigma may help to minimize the overall negative impacts associated with mental illness. Consequently, a qualitative study was conducted examining the effects of perceived stigma and societal discrimination on those with a mental illness and how social supports and a sense of community belonging moderate those effects. In addition to a thorough review of the literature, this capstone paper will report a qualitative study’s methods, findings/outcomes, and limitations; but will also include future considerations for additional research about the stigma surrounding mental health.

Included in

Social Work Commons