Date of Award

Spring 2010

Document Type





In the United States, the prevalence of mental illness has risen significantly: 1 in 10 individuals under age 17 suffer from severe impairment due to mental illness. The rate of atypical antipsychotic medication prescribing for this population continues to climb while lack of an evidence base persists regarding safety and efficacy. The limited research on atypical antipsychotic medications focuses on the short-term effects without examining the long-term safety, tolerability, and effectiveness. The purpose of this study was to examine perceptions and experiences of children and adolescents with mental illness diagnoses treated with atypical antipsychotics. All participants were under the age of 28, under the age of 16 at the time of initial mental illness diagnosis, had mental health comorbidities, and concurrently were being treated with multiple psychotropic medications. Grounded theory methodology was used to analyze data obtained from the 3 individuals interviewed. The emergent conceptualizations were denoted as categories and their properties rooted in the data obtained through theoretical sampling, leading to the discovery of the core concept enduring social stigma. Research needs in child and adolescent mental health care call for broader dissemination of evidence-based practices guiding nurses and other mental health care professionals to promote and utilize holistic mental health care by educating and advocating for change in social attitudes concerning mental illness.