The Phenomenon of Social Isolation in the Severely Mentally Ill

Sheila J. Linz, Bonnie A. Sturm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


Purpose: The phenomenon of social isolation is closely linked with the experience of having a severe mental illness (SMI). This paper offers scholarly perspectives and analyses of the phenomenon of social isolation as it applies to people with SMI by highlighting relevant definitional, historical, theoretical, and conceptual understanding surrounding this phenomenon. Conclusions: Stigma, alienation, and existential loneliness when taken together provide an understanding of the multidimensional problem of social isolation for people with SMI. Practice Implications: Mental health services should be provided which take into account the importance of human contact and social connection for people who live with SMI. Services can be offered which are designed to develop social skills, as well as to create opportunities for social connection and community involvement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)243-254
Number of pages12
JournalPerspectives in Psychiatric Care
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2013
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Phychiatric Mental Health


  • Severe mental illness
  • Social isolation
  • Stigma


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