Left Behind: Experiences of Community Mental Health Center Clients with Serious Mental Illness During the COVID-19 Pandemic.

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Community Mental Health Journal

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While some international qualitative research has interviewed people with serious mental illnesses (SMI) about their experiences in the initial months of the COVID-19 pandemic, few US studies have explored their experiences and perspectives as the pandemic has continued. Drawing from disability studies perspectives, this qualitative study conducted in 2022 explored the experiences of people with SMI seeking services at community mental health centers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fifteen clients who identified as living with an SMI and were clients during March 2020 were interviewed. Using narrative analysis, we identified an overarching tenor of client experiences: feeling left behind by institutions and society. This feeling of being left behind was conceptualized as three themes. As the literature around the COVID-19 pandemic grows and we attempt to integrate it into community mental health policy and practice, it is essential to include the experiences and perspectives of clients with lived experience of SMI.


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