The Society and Mental Health Division of the Society for the Study of Social Problems (SSSP) is dedicated to advancing the understanding of mental health issues and their intersection with social problems. As a forum for mental health research and its application to advocacy, policy, and practice, our mission is to foster critical analysis, promote innovative methodologies, and encourage diverse perspectives. We believe that mental health is not solely an individual concern but is deeply influenced by sociostructural factors such as lowered SES, racism, homophobia, transphobia, and sexism, and disparities in access to quality education, healthcare, housing, and nutrition. Our division aims to shed light on these complex interactions and contribute to the development of effective strategies for addressing mental health challenges that can result from inequality and power disparity. We are committed to fostering an inclusive and collaborative environment that values the participation of behavioral health professionals, advocates, educators, and students. We do this by encouraging people across varying disciplines and identities to feel accepted, respected, and to have their voices heard. By bringing together diverse voices and expertise, we aim to facilitate interdisciplinary dialogue and promote the exchange of ideas that can lead to meaningful change. Our division also recognizes the importance of translating research findings into actionable policies and practices. Our leadership and members are often active in their communities, serving on boards, volunteering in their local mental health community, and participating in social movements that bring meaning to the term “community engagement.” We strive to bridge the gap between academia and real-world application, advocating for evidence-based approaches that address the mental health system's shortcomings and promote social justice.

The Society and Mental Health Division of SSSP is dedicated to advancing knowledge, promoting critical analysis, and advocating for effective policies and practices that enhance mental health and address social problems. Together, we can create a society prioritizing mental well-being and fostering a more inclusive and equitable world.

Division mission statement edited in November 2023 by Douglas J. Engelman, University of North Carolina Wilmington, Society and Mental Health Division Chair, 2023-2025. Division mission statement reviewed in November 2022 by Alex Trillo, Saint Peter's University, Society and Mental Health Division Chair, 2021-2023. No edits were made. Division mission statement edited in December 2021 by Alex Trillo, Saint Peter's University, Society and Mental Health Division Chair, 2021-2023.

Some Resources:

The following suggested reading list is for SSSP colleagues and their students who wish to learn more about the origins, history, treatment, and contemporary study of mental illness. The list is alphabetical.

American Psychiatric Association, (1980). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (3rd ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

Aneshensel, C. S. (1992). Social stress: Theory and research. Annual Review of Sociology, 18, 15–38.

Butler, J. (2011). Gender trouble: Feminism and the subversion of identity. Routledge.

Cassel, J. (1976). The contribution of the social environment to host resistance: The fourth Wade Hampton Frost lecture. American Journal of Epidemiology, 104, 107–123.

Cockerham, W.C. (2011). Sociology of mental disorder. 8th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Conrad, P., & Barker, K. K. (2010). The social construction of illness key insights and policy implications. Journal of health and social behavior, 51(1 suppl), S67-S79.

Conrad, P. (1987). Wellness in the workplace: Potentials and pitfalls of work-site health promotion. The Milbank Quarterly, 255-275.

Conrad, P. (1992). “Medicalization and social control.” Annual review of Sociology 209-232.

Corrigan, P., et al., (2003). “An attribution model of public discrimination towards persons with mental illness.” Journal of health and Social Behavior 162-179.

Corrigan, Patrick W., Amy Green, Robert Lundin, Mary Ann Kubiak, and David L. Penn. (2001). “Contact With and Social Distance from People Who Have Serious Mental Illness.” Psychiatric Services 52:953-958.

Corrigan, P. W., & Watson, A. C. (2002). Understanding the impact of stigma on people with mental illness. World psychiatry, 1(1), 16-20.

Corrigan, Patrick W., Fred E. Markowitz, Amy C. Watson, D. Rowan, and Maryann Kubiak. (2003). “Attribution and Dangerousness Models of Public Discrimination against Persons with Mental Illness.” Journal of Health and Social Behavior 44:162-179.

Corrigan, P. W., & Watson, A. C (2005). “Blame, Shame, and Contamination: The Impact of Mental Illness and Drug Dependence Stigma on Family Members.” Journal of Family Psychology 20:239-246

Durkheim, E. (1987). Suicide: A study in sociology. New York: Free Press (Original work published 1951). Eaton, W. W. (1986). The sociology of mental disorders (2nd ed.). New York: Praeger.

Deane, M. W., Steadman, H. J., & Borum, R. (1999). Emerging partnerships between mental health and law enforcement. Psychiatric Services, 50, 99–101.

Eaton, W. W. (1986). The sociology of mental disorders (2nd ed.). New York: Praeger.

Engel, R. S., & Silver, E. (2001). Policing mentally disordered suspects: A reexamination of the criminalization hypothesis. Criminology, 39, 225–252.

Fisher, W. H., Roy-Bujnowski, K. M., Grudzinskas, A. J., Clayfield, J. C., Banks, S. M., & Wolff, N. (2006). Patterns and prevalence of arrest in a statewide cohort of mental health care consumers. Psychiatric Services, 57, 1623–1628.

Foucault, M. (1965). Madness and civilization: A history of insanity in the age of reason. New York: Vintage Books.

Goode, K. T., Haley, W. E., Roth, D. L., & Ford, G. R. (1998). Predicting longitudinal changes in caregiver physical and mental health: a stress process model. Health psychology, 17(2), 190.

Goffman, Erving (1963). Stigma: Notes on the Management of a Spoiled Identity. New York: Simon and Schuster

Gove, W. R. (2004). The career of the mentally ill: An integration of psychiatric, labeling/social construction, and lay perspectives. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 45, 357–375.

Gurin, G., Veroff, J., & Feld, S. (1960). Americans view their mental health: A nationwide interview study. New York: Basic Books.

Haley, W. E., LaMonde, L. A., Han, B., Burton, A. M., & Schonwetter, R. (2003). Predictors of depression and life satisfaction among spousal caregivers in hospice: application of a stress process model. Journal of palliative medicine, 6(2), 215-224.

Haslam, N. (2003). Categorical versus dimensional models of mental disorder: The taxometric evidence. The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 37, 696–704.

Hiday, V. A., & Smith, L. N. (1987). Effects of the dangerousness standard in civil commitment. Journal of Psychiatry and Law, 15, 433–454.

Hiday, V. A., & Wales, H. W. (2009). Criminalization of mental illness. In E. Vingilis & S. State (Eds.), Applied research and evaluation in community mental health services: An overview. Montreal: McGill-Queens.

Hollingshead, A. B., & Redlich, F. C. (1958). Social class and mental illness: A community study. New York: Wiley.

Horwitz, A. (2002). Outcomes in the sociology of mental health and illness: Where have we been and where are we going? Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 43, 143–151.

Horwitz, A. (2007). Transforming normality into pathology: The DSM and the outcomes of stressful social arrangements. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 48, 211–222. 18 C.S. Aneshensel et al.

Insel, T., & Wang, P. S. (2010). Rethinking mental illness. Journal of the American Medical Association, 303, 1970–1971.

Karp, D. A. (1996). Speaking of sadness: Depression, disconnection, and the meanings of illness. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Kessler, R. C., & McLeod, J. D. (1984). Sex differences in vulnerability to undesirable life events. American Sociological Review, 49, 620–631.

Kirk, S. A., & Kutchins, H. (1992). The selling of DSM: The rhetoric of science in psychiatry. New York: Aldine de Gruyter.

Kvaale, E. P., Haslam, N., & Gottdiener, W. H. (2013). The ‘side effects’ of medicalization: A meta-analytic review of how biogenetic explanations affect stigma. Clinical psychology review, 33(6), 782-794.

Lamb, H. R., & Grant, R. W. (1982). The mentally ill in an urban county jail. Archives of General Psychiatry, 39, 17–22.

Link, B. G., Cullen, F. T., Frank, J., & Wozniak, J. F. (1987). The social rejection of ex-mental patients: Understanding why labels matter. American Journal of Sociology, 92, 1461–1500.

Link, B. G., Andrews, H., & Cullen, F. T. (1992). The violent and illegal behavior of mental patients reconsidered. American Sociological Review, 57, 275–292

Link, Bruce G., John Monahan, Ann Steuve, and Francis T. Cullen. (1999a). “Real in Their Consequences: A Sociological Approach to Understanding the Association Between Psychotic Symptoms and Violence.” American Sociological Review 64:316-32.

Link, Bruce, Jo Phelan, Michaeline Bresnahan, Ann Stueve, and Bernice A. Pescosolido. (1999b). Public Conception of Mental Illness: Labels, Causes, Dangerousness, and Social Distance. American Journal of Public Health 89:1328-33.

Link, Bruce G., et al. (1999c). “Public Conceptions of Mental Illness; Labels, Causes, Dangerousness, and Social Distance. “ American Journal of Public Health 89:1328-33

Marcuse, H. (1968). One-dimensional man: the ideology of advanced industrial society. Sphere Books.

Martin, J., et al. (2000). “Of Fear and Loathing: The Role of ‘Disturbing Behavior.’ Labels, and Causal Attribution in Shaping Public Attitudes toward People with Mental Illness.” Journal of Health and Social Science 41:208-233

Markowitz, Fred E. (2004). "Sociological Models of Recovery." Recovery and Mental Illness: Consumer Visions and Research Paradigms, edited by Ruth O. Ralph and Patrick W. Corrigan. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Markowitz, Fred E. and Amy C. Watson. (2015). “Police Response to Domestic Violence: Situations Involving Veterans Exhibiting Signs of Mental Illness.” Criminology 53:231- 252

Melick, M. E., Steadman, H. J., & Cocozza, J. J. (1979). The medicalization of criminal behavior among mental patients. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 20, 228–237.

Miech, R. A., Caspi, A., Moffitt, T. E., Wright, B. R. E., & Silva, P. A. (1999). Low socioeconomic status and mental disorders: A longitudinal study of selection and causation during young adulthood. The American Journal of Sociology, 104, 1096–1131.

Mirowsky, J., & Ross, C. E. (1989). Social causes of psychological distress. New York: Aldine de Gruyter.

Monahan, J. (1992). Mental disorder and violent behavior: Perceptions and evidence. American Psychologist, 47(4), 511.

Pearlin, L. I. (1983). Role strains and personal stress. In H. B. Kaplan (Ed.), Psychosocial stress: Trends in theory and research (pp. 3–32). New York: Academic.

Pearlin, L. I. (1989). The sociological study of stress. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 30, 241–256.

Pescosolido, B. A., et al., (2008). Rethinking theoretical approaches to stigma: A framework integrating normative influences on stigma (FINIS). Social science & medicine, 67(3), 431-440.

Phelan, J. C., Link, B. G., Diez-Roux, A., Kawachi, I., & Levin, B. (2004). “Fundamental Causes” of Social Inequalities in Mortality: A Test of the Theory∗. Journal of health and social behavior, 45(3), 265-285.

Phelan, Jo C. (2005). “Geneticization and the consequences for Stigma: The Case of Mental Illness.” Journal of Health and Social Behavior 46:307-22.

Scheff, T. J. (1966). Being mentally ill: A sociological theory. Chicago: Aldine.

Scheid, T. L., & Brown, T. N. (2009). Mental health systems and policy. A handbook for the study of mental health, 407-19.

Smith, D. E. (1987). The everyday world as problematic: A feminist sociology. University of Toronto Press.

Srole, L., Langner, T. S., Michael, S. T., Opler, M. K., & Rennie, T. A. C. (1962). Mental health in the metropolis: The midtown Manhattan study. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Switzer, G. E., Dew, M. A., & Bromet, E. J. (2013). Issues in mental health assessment. In Handbook of the sociology of mental health (pp. 115-141). Springer Netherlands.

Szasz, T. S. (1974). The myth of mental illness: Foundations of a theory of personal conduct (revth ed.). New York: HarperCollins.

Thoits, P. A. (1983). Dimensions of life events that influence psychological distress: An evaluation and synthesis of the literature. In H. B. Kaplan (Ed.), Psychosocial stress: Trends in theory and research (pp. 33–103). New York: Academic.

Thoits, P. A. (1986). Multiple identities: Examining gender and marital status differences in distress. American Sociological Review, 51, 259–272.

Thoits, P. A. (2010). Stress and health: Major findings and policy implications. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 51(S), S41–S53.

Thoits, P. A. (2011). Mechanisms linking social ties and support to physical and mental health. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 52, 145–161.

Turner, R. J., Wheaton, B., & Lloyd, D. A. (1995). The epidemiology of social stress. American Sociological Review, 60, 104–125.

Wheaton, B. (1994). Sampling the stress universe. In W. R. Avison & I. H. Gotlib (Eds.), Stress and mental health: Contemporary issues and prospects for the future (pp. 77–114). New York: Plenum Press.

Watson, A. C., Corrigan, P. W., & Uate, V. O. (2004). Police responses to persons with mental illness: Does the label matter? Journal of the American Association of Psychiatry and Law, 32, 378– 385.

Walker, M.T. (2006). “The Social Construction of Mental Illness and its Implications for the Recovery Model.” International Journal of Psychosocial Rehabilitation. 10 (1), 71-87.