College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences Theses and Dissertations

Graduation Date

6-2010

Document Type

Thesis

College/Department Conferring Degree

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Keywords

resilience (personality trait), mental health, feminist perspectives, latina women, services

Abstract

Researchers have documented that Latina women involved in the mental health system face a number of barriers to access to services and ongoing use of services. Latina women involved in the mental health system are often viewed as at-risk. This study challenges traditional pathological views of Latina women in the mental health system. This study uses a feminist analysis to examine mental health providers’ perception of Latina women. It views Latina women as mental health system survivors and suggests that resilience and strength-based perspectives can transform the treatment of Latina women. Secondary data from twenty-two interviews with agency directors, psychiatrists, supervisors, therapists and others are analyzed using standpoint theory as a theoretical framework and a phenomenological analysis of the data. Using standpoint theory, this study also examines the positionality of the providers to determine if Latino providers have a greater understanding of Latina women than non-Latino providers. The findings show that two of the twenty-two providers viewed Latina women as resilient. The providers attributed a variety of factors, including culture of the provider, stigma, domestic violence/abuse, and resources as influencing Latina women’s access to and ongoing use of services. This study also found that Latino providers had more to say about Latina women than non-Latino providers. This study is a part of a growing body of feminist research on resilience and strengths based perspectives in the mental health system. Ultimately, this study argues that Latina women mental health system survivors should be understood from resilience and strength-based perspectives with nuanced understandings of Latino culture which could greatly impact their treatment and recovery.

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