Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)


Social Work

Program Name/Specialization

Studies in Social Work Practice


Lyle S. Hallman Faculty of Social Work

First Advisor

Magnus Mfoafo-M'Carthy

Advisor Role



According to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) (2015), one in five individuals will experience mental illness personally, which means that all Canadians will be indirectly (or directly) influenced by mental illness at some point in their life. Unfortunately, due to historical trends and negative stereotypes mental illness has become heavily stigmatized (Camp, Finlay, and Lyons, 2002; Chernomas, Clarke, and Chisholm, 2000; Link, Struening, Neese-Todd, Asmussen, and Phelan, 2001; Sands, 2009; Szeto, Luong & Dobson, 2013). Although many studies have assessed the relationship between mental illness and stigma, little research has included a gender lens when exploring these topics. Therefore, the primary research objective of the current study is to explore women’s perspectives of living with mental illness, stigma, and receiving community services. In total, five women from the Kitchener, Waterloo, and Cambridge area participated in the study. Similar to the literature, results found that the women experienced feelings of loneliness and sadness due to their mental illness diagnosis and the stigma they experienced from friends, family, and service staff. Some women talked about being relieved to have a label or diagnosis for their illness, however, the majority of their narratives suggested that living with a mental illness is difficult due to the internal and external stigma they experience. Findings from this study have implications for contributing to the field of social work, improving service delivery within various healthcare facilities, and future research.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season


Included in

Social Work Commons