The Phenomenon of Social Isolation in the Severely Mentally Ill

CAP_84483_7

People experiencing severe mental illness (SMI) often experience social isolation, specifically through stigma, alienation, and loneliness. Services and psychiatric nursing should consider the important role of human contact and social connection.

The Issue:
Understanding the historical, theoretical, and conceptual understandings surrounding social isolation as experienced by people with SMI informs the care and services offered to those living with SMI.

Key Findings

  • Historically people with SMI have been excluded from society, and public awareness and understanding of SMI is lacking.

  • Stigma, alienation, and loneliness are the three main subheadings found relating to social isolation and the mentally ill.

  • Social isolation among people with SMI is complex, influence by many factors.

Conclusion:
Further work must be done to alleviate social isolation for people with SMI. Services should consider the important role of human contact and social connection. Psychiatric nurses play an important role in helping their patients recognize their need for social connection and helping to facilitate it.

About the Study:
A literature search of CINAHL, Science Direct, Proquest, and PsycInfo, was conducted on the terms social isolation and social isolation and the mentally ill. Studies from 2000 to 2010 were included, and articles pertaining to children were excluded. Additional articles were selected form the reference lists of articles read.

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