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Diagnosis in Young Children: How a Father's Perceptions of Mental Health Change




This case study's purpose was to understand how diagnosing mental illness in a child affects a parent's perception of mental health, using Denzin's interpretive interactionism.


Two interviews from a case study were analyzed.


Emergent themes were alienation from peers, ambivalence, shifting orientation to mental illness, school system stigmatization and conflict with mental health care, and discovery of mental healthcare specialists and new peers. Perceptions were influenced by peers, education, and mental healthcare systems, and by the disease model paradigm of mental illness. Future research should explore the effect of the diagnostic process on parents of very young children, and expand on consequences of undergoing current diagnostic and treatment practices.