Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Social Welfare


Jonathan Prince

Committee Members

Harriet Goodman

Andrea Savage

Subject Categories

Social Work


mental health professionals, MSW students, recovery, severe mental illness, mental health literacy


In this study, I examined the extent of endorsement of recovery-oriented principles and practices by conducting both a pilot and final study of 143 total social work students in the Masters of Social Work program in an urban school in the Northeast. I explored five variables highlighted in the literature as most frequently influencing extent of endorsement of recovery-oriented principles and practices when working with consumers diagnosed with serious mental illness (SMI). These included knowledge of severe mental illness (mental health literacy), social contact (social distance), concerns regarding safety (dangerousness), knowing someone diagnosed with mental illness (familiarity), and having more than 5 years of employed experienced working with people diagnosed with SMI. A survey design measured these variables, and included four existing instruments: Recovery Knowledge Inventory (Bedregal, O’Connell, & Davidson, 2006); Social Distance Scale (World Psychiatric Association Programme to Reduce Stigma and Discrimination Because of Schizophrenia, 2001); Dangerousness Scale (Link, Cullen, Frank, & Wozniak, 1987); and four vignettes with corresponding questions from the MacArthur Mental Health Module (as part of the General Social Survey in 1996) and the National Survey of Mental Health Literacy. The vignettes were only employed in the final study.

Findings indicated that race and the number of semesters completed in the MSW program were statistically significant. Asian and African Americans reported less endorsement of recovery-oriented principles and practices than other races. The extent of endorsement of recovery knowledge was found to improve the more semesters completed, suggesting that recovery knowledge of professionals in training may improve as their level of knowledge increases. A clinically significant finding pertaining to mental health literacy emerged, indicating that some participants reported less knowledge of psychiatric conditions. Notably, many of the participants who scored lower on the vignettes measuring mental health literacy had completed fewer semesters in the program.

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