Open Access Graduate Research Paper
Interaction with mentally and emotionally disabled classmates creates a need for students to better understand their fellow adolescents. They need to be able to read about peers with mental illness. Mentally ill students must also be able to read about others that experience their same or similar conditions. What they read needs to be accurate. It was the purpose of this research to investigate whether adolescents with mental or emotional disabilities were accurately portrayed in contemporary fiction books for readers ages 12- 18. This problem was addressed through content analysis in a quantitative study. The population contained 25 randomly selected young adult fiction novels containing 28 mentally ill adolescents aged 12-18. Each book was read and a content analysis performed by the researcher. The instrument used for this analysis was a check list designed by the researcher. The check list was based on the seven hypotheses put forth by the researcher and was completed for each mentally ill character in the books.
The following five hypotheses were accepted:
1. A majority of the books will show that mental illness in children is brought on by abuse.
2. A majority of the books will show that there is stigma attached to being mentally ill.
3. A majority of the books will show that children who are mentally ill withdraw from society.
4. A majority of the books will show that more females than males are portrayed as having a mental illness.
5. A majority of the books will show that children do not know where to seek help.
These two hypotheses were rejected:
1. A majority of the books will show that children who are mentally ill use violence.
2. A majority of the books will show that mental illness will be seen in children of low socioeconomic status.
Year of Submission
Master of Arts
Department of Curriculum and Instruction
Division of School Library Studies
1 PDF file (v, 119 pages)
©2002 Marilyn E. Olson
Olson, Marilyn E., "The Portrayal of Mentally Ill Characters in Young Adult Fiction" (2002). Graduate Research Papers. 3936.