The Phenomenon of Social Isolation in the Severely Mentally Ill

A frustrated looking high school student sits at a desk in class.

People experiencing severe mental illness 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.

Developed through research support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the 2013 article "Phenomenon of Social Isolation in the Severely Mentally Ill" offers scholarly perspectives and analyses of the phenomenon of social isolation as it applies to people with severe mental illness.

Key Findings

  • Historically people with severe mental illness have been excluded from society, and public awareness and understanding of this phenomenon 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 severe mental illness is complex and influenced by many factors.

Conclusion:
Further work must be done to alleviate social isolation for people with severe mental illness. 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.