Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Rigaud, Joseph


Mental health professionals have an important role to play in assessing and addressing the needs of their clients, including those with severe mental illness. Research, however, has demonstrated a reluctance toward discussing sexual health topics with severely mentally ill clients. The purpose of this study was to explore social work practitioners’ attitudes and preparedness toward addressing the sexual health need of clients who are mentally challenged to a great extent. Under the qualitative research paradigm, this study sampled 8 licensed clinical social workers who currently work in the United States. Thematic analysis of interview data generated four major themes. First, social workers harbor positive attitudes toward mental health; second, social work practitioners perceived themselves as prepared to address sexual health concerns with clients; third, sexual health discussions with severely mentally ill clients should be a part of the solution, not of the problem; and fourth, empowerment of clients and normalization of mental health are ways to combat discomfort toward discussing sexual health issues with clients. Implications for research and practice are discussed.

Included in

Social Work Commons