Skip to main content

SOC 316: Mental Health and Society (Spring 2021) (Professor Roche)

SOC 417 Final Paper Format

Overview

For this option, must know someone with a mental health diagnosis (they have to have been officially diagnosed by a professional) who is open and willing to talk to you about their experiences. Please do not seek out a stranger or someone you are unfamiliar with. This is for those of you who are already familiar with a friend or family member who has experienced being diagnosed. Please ONLY ask someone that you know is comfortable talking about this.

Once you have collected all of your interview data, please format your paper using the following headings:

Introduction:

Begin your paper by briefly introducing the person that you interviewed. Who is this person in your life? How do you know them? What is their race, class, gender, occupation and/or other information that you think might be useful? How did you first learn about their mental illness? What is the diagnosis? How did you approach this person about an interview? What was their reaction?

Describe the setting in which you conducted your interview and the tone. Provide details about your feelings, as well as about how your interviewee seemed during the interview (nervous, calm etc.). Try your best to “set the tone” of the interview.

Literature Review:

Find at least one, sociological and peer-reviewed article that connects to the experiences of your interviewee. You should use a broad framework to find literature as it is tough to find sociological literature about a particular diagnostic category (be careful that you are not finding psychological literature!). Provide a review of the journal article that you found by first describing how the literature helps to frame what you learned from your interviewee. As you review the article, link to the aspects that connect to your interview. How does this article help you to understand your interview findings sociologically? Be sure that you review the “dos and don’ts” that Professor Roche posted about writing about literature. 

Findings:

Discuss your interview findings and share important elements of your interviewee’s story. Include examples. Try to use concrete terms, using quotes and excerpts from your interview notes to tell their story. What stands out about their experiences? Listen to people as they describe, from their point of view, what went on, how they handled it, what seemed most difficult, how they resolved it (if they were able to), who they accessed for support, etc. These are only suggestions to give you an idea of the types of information you will need to share.

You might include how they sought help, how their loved ones reacted, or simply describe what you learned in the interview.

Analysis:

Please provide a sociological discussion of what you learned from your interviewee. This means that you must draw upon the literature that you found as well as topics, readings, discussions and other class data to complete a sociological analysis of this person’s experiences.

For example, what have you learned about the social construction of mental illness through your interviews? How does our new understanding of societal reaction theory help you to make sense of this person’s experience? Or, you might draw upon our discussions of race, gender, social control, defining mental illness etc. The point is to offer a clear, detailed sociological discussion of this person’s experience.

The most important aspect of the analysis sections is your ability to 1) Use your interview data to make your point. This paper is an opportunity for you to listen, read and express what you have learned from the experience of others. 2) Remain sociological. The more connections that you can make to a sociological understanding of the issue, the better your grade will be. These connections should reflect what you have learned in class. Be sure that you don’t start to psychologize or individualize. Rather, keep your analysis sociological.

Conclusion:

In your conclusion, please describe why it is important to learn about mental illness from those who experience it. Drawing upon some of the class readings, why is the important to listen to those who have been labeled as mentally ill?

References: Include a reference page using APA or MLA formatting.

Also, for each of your academic, sociological references, please explain how you know the article is sociological – what is the author(s) affiliated university and department, for example (remember, this means that at least one author must have a background in sociology).

Appendix

Append (meaning attach at the end) your rough notes from your interview, or a portion of your transcribed interview (if you chose to tape record, which Professor Roche highly recommends – with permission from your interviewee) and submit with your paper as one document.

For full assignment guidelines, please consult Cougar Courses.

Overview

Some of you may have had personal experiences as a “mentally ill person”. For this option, you may recount your experiences as a person who has been diagnosed as mentally ill. This option allows you to tell your story and discuss the specific ways that you manage and define your mental distress. You must have had a diagnosis from a professional to choose this option. 

Once you have collected all of your interview data, please format your paper using the following headings (include headings in your paper):

Introduction:

Introduce yourself – tell Professor Roche a little bit about you to help frame the paper. Perhaps describe your race, class, gender, occupation and/or other information that you feel might be important to share. Then, describe your diagnosis, including who made the diagnosis and the time frame in your life when your experiences occurred. Finally, discuss where things stand for you now. How are you doing and what are you doing to manage your mental health?

Literature Review:

Find one sociological, journal article that addresses your experiences with the mental health and illness. You should use a broad framework to find literature as it is tough to find sociological literature about a particular diagnostic category (be careful that you are not finding psychological literature!). Provide a review of the journal article you found by first describing how the literature helps to frame your story. How does this article help you to understand your experiences sociologically? Be sure that you review the “dos and don’ts” that Professor Roche posted about writing about literature.

Findings:

Describe your experiences. Here you should “tell your story” but in a clear and understandable manner. What happened that lead to your diagnosis? What were/are the behaviors that caused problems for you and or your loved ones? Be clear about the steps and experiences you went through in receiving a diagnosis. What you choose to include is up to you, as long as the story is clear and connected to the class.

You might include how you sought help, how your loved ones reacted, or simply a description of what helped or was most problematic for you.

Where do things stand with you today? How do your experiences shape who you are, how you understand what happened and how do you cope? Do you still have to deal with these issues today? If so, how do you manage things?

Analysis:

Please provide a sociological discussion of your experiences. This means that you must draw upon the literature that you found, class topics, readings, and discussions to complete a sociological analysis of your experiences.

For example, what have you learned about the social construction of mental illness? Or you might draw upon our discussions of race, gender, social control, defining mental illness, societal reaction theory etc. Or, if your literature is about stigma, refer to the literature to help make sense of times when you felt ashamed or embarrassed… just an example. The point is to offer a clear, detailed sociological discussion of your experience. Bear in mind that even if a sociological approach conflicts with your own worldview, you must be able to demonstrate your ability to “do sociology”.

Conclusion:

In your conclusion, please describe what this experience was like for you personally. In addition, describe why it is important to learn about mental illness from those who experience it. Drawing upon some of our readings, why is the important to listen to those who have been labeled as mentally ill?

References:

Include a reference page using APA or MLA formatting.

Also, for each of your academic, sociological references, please explain how you know the article is sociological – what is the author(s) affiliated university and department, for example (remember, this means that at least one author must have a background in sociology).

 

For full assignment guidelines, please consult Cougar Courses.

 

For this option, you must choose a topic that can be connected to mental health and illness (a few examples listed below, but Professor Roche is open to any topic) and do a search of the literature related to this topic. You should find a minimum of 3 sociological, scholarly journal articles that are connected to your topic. Be careful that you are not choosing literature from psychiatric or medical journals. Rather, you should find articles that explore mental health using a sociological focus.

Once you have found relevant literature, please format your paper using the following headings (please include headings in your paper):

Introduction

Introduce the topic you have chosen and offer a broad overview of the direction of your paper. Your introduction should outline what the paper will accomplish regarding the topic and explore the importance of a sociological perspective of mental health and illness.

Review of the Literature

For each of your chosen articles, discuss the major findings from both the article’s literature review and the study itself. I have posted a student example on the resource page to give you an idea of the type of information to include. Your literature review can explore one topic in different ways, but you should be sure that the connection between the articles and the topic is clear.

Local Resources

Try to imagine that you are a person who suffers from mental health issues, or you have a loved one who needs to find help. Do some research to find what might be available locally AND that is connected to your topic. Locate resources that might be helpful and describe what the process of obtaining help includes. This means you will need to move beyond a simple Google search and make a few calls. What are the requirements? Most importantly, connect what you learn about resources to the course material and think critically about how these services might or might not be helpful.

Conclusion

Reflect upon your literature findings and conclude with a discussion of the importance of a sociological perspective when understanding mental health and illness. Professor Roche urges you to reflect upon the topics and issues we have discussed in class and use them to frame your discussion of sociology. Describe how this research process has deepened your understanding of the topic. Be sure that you stay grounded in a sociological discussion and that you don’t “psychologize” or individualize in your conclusion. Rather you should reflect upon how a sociological perspective broadens our understanding of mental health and illness and your chosen topic.

References

Include a reference page using APA or MLA formatting.

Also, for each of your academic, sociological references, please explain how you know the article is sociological – what is the author(s) affiliated university and department, for example (remember, this means that at least one author must have a background in sociology).

For full assignment guidelines, please consult Cougar Courses.