Social Work

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African-American, severe mental illness, schizophrenia, recovery, culture, qualitative



This hermeneutic phenomenological study examined the lived experience of African-American persons recovering from serious and persistent mental illness (SPMI). Semi-structured interviews were conducted at three time points (6, 12, and 18 months) with nine African Americans with SPMI. A culturally sensitive perspective informed the data analysis. Interviews were transcribed, read, and coded to cluster thematic aspects in each case and across cases. Atlas-ti was used to recode transcripts and retrieve quotes to dimensionalize each theme. Four themes were identified: (1) striving for normalcy, (2) striving to stay “up,” (3) coping with the consequences of illness, and (4) leaning on the supports that watch out for and over me. Findings were anonymously reviewed and critiqued by African-American research clinicians. Implications for practice include sensitivity to the intersection of racial oppression and stigma specific to mental illness, attention to meso- and macro-level needs, and client's positive responses to collaborative and personalized relationships with mental health professionals.





Published in

Social Work in Mental Health

Citation/Other Information

Peterson Armour, M., Bradshaw, W., & Roseborough, D. (2009). African Americans and recovery from severe mental illness. Social Work in Mental Health, 7(6), 602-622.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.