Date of Award

6-2016

Document Type

Project

Degree Name

Master of Social Work

Department

School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Shon, Herb/Chang, Janet

Abstract

Existing stigma in the form of negative attitudes towards individuals with severe mental illness by mental health practitioners, has the potential to set barriers towards recovery. A survey of 72 mental health practitioners from three disciplines were surveyed, in an attempt to measure mental health practitioner attitudes towards individuals with severe mental illness, and how their attitudes impact their belief in client recovery. This was a quantitative study, based on two Likert Scale surveys and distributed both in paper form and using Survey Monkey. Participants were gathered through a snowball effect, and consisted of 42 social workers, 18 marriage and family therapists, and 12 clinical psychologists. The Opening Minds Stigma Scale for Mental Health Practitioners was utilized in an attempt to measure stigmatizing behaviors. The Consumer Optimism scale was also incorporated in an attempt to measure practitioner’s belief in recovery. Content analysis was conducted through Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) version 20. The findings of the study were inconclusive and did not support the original hypothesis, as no relationship between mental health practitioner attitudes towards individuals with severe mental illness and their belief in recovery was found. However, two key finding emerged through further content analysis. A positive relationship was found between negative attitudes and the practitioner’s desire to be socially distant from individuals with severe mental illness. Practitioners from inpatient work settings showed higher levels of belief in client recovery, than those in outpatient and private practice. Further research can be conducted regarding the potential reasons that inpatient mental health workers have higher belief in client recovery, in order to help outpatient agencies and private practice individuals also achieve higher levels of optimism towards recovery. The findings of negative attitudes in mental health practitioners and their desire to remain socially distant from individuals with a severe mental illness can also be a key component in recent efforts to combat stigmatizing behaviors.