‘I’m loving life’: Adolescents’ empowering experiences of living with a mental illness

Derrick Kranke, Sally E. Jackson, Debbie A. Taylor, Joan Landguth, Jerry Floersch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Objective: Self-stigma is a common phenomenon among adolescents suffering from psychiatric disorders; however, this important research area has received little attention. Furthermore, there is a lack of clarity in the current literature on what makes individuals more or less likely to experience self-stigma. The objectives of our article are to identify the external conditions that help promote empowerment and present a model that explicates the process of those adolescents who do not self-stigmatize.

Methods: In this qualitative study, we examine the cases of three adolescents between the ages of 12–17 who were taking psychiatric medication. We gathered adolescents’ experiences and perceptions of psychiatric treatment using the TeenSEMI, coded responses, utilized Atlas.ti software to connect and hyperlink the codes, and constructed individual narratives that ultimately elicited an empowerment process among the adolescents.

Results:We identified themes that helped adolescents to buffer against self-stigma; and categorized the components of the empowerment process as: diminish, normalize and attribute.

Conclusion and implications for practice: We compare our empowerment model with an adolescent self-stigma model and identify key differences that may mitigate the effects of self-stigma. Although there are limitations to the generalizability of the study, authors recommend interventions applicable to youths with mental illness, as well as family and peers. This study indicates positive outcomes among adolescents who adhere to and are engaged in treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)102-118
Number of pages17
JournalQualitative Social Work
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 25 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


  • Children’s services
  • empowerment
  • mental health
  • stigma


Dive into the research topics of '‘I’m loving life’: Adolescents’ empowering experiences of living with a mental illness'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this