Faculty Advisor

Dr. Bilinda Straight



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One in seventeen Americans is diagnosed with serious mental illness (NIMH 2009). Despite its prevalence people with mental illness are stigmatized, creating barriers to effective treatments and recovery. The best treatments today are highly effective; between 70 and 90 percent of individuals have significant reduction of symptoms and improved quality of life with a combination of medication and psychological therapies (NAMI 2011). Additionally, studies have shown benefits of social supports.

For those with religious belief, participation in a religious community could offer social support and provide incentive to maintain treatments. However, historically some religious institutions have marginalized those with mental illness, and even today many churches continue to avoid addressing issues of mental illness.

This ethnographic project is a study of Hallelujah Church in Kalamazoo, Michigan, seeking how Hallelujah Church meets both the spiritual and psychological needs of its members with mental illness.

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Anthropology Commons