Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE)

Reader 1

Paul Hurley

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© 2015 Miriam E. Cruz


Over the past years, mental health has attracted increased attention throughout the world, in the form of initiatives, programs, support groups, etc. all with goals to increase awareness and support of mental health. The stark discrepancy between the vision driving this mental health movement and our reality comes from a basic misunderstanding. While there are both legislative and cultural efforts in place to reform our mental health system, the two must work hand in hand in order to affect substantial change. Rather than producing a collaborative effort, our legislators and society tend to ignore each other, resulting in isolated attempts at reform that are doomed to failure without the support of the other side.

This thesis examines the obstacles that mentally ill individuals face in the U.S. today after receiving formal “mentally ill” diagnoses. In our current system, these individuals face limited options, all of which include a number of steep costs. This thesis proposes a shift toward a more collaborative approach in order to transform the costs and fear of diagnosis into benefits and desire for diagnosis. However, an approach such as the one suggested can only be successful after a fundamental shift in the perception of mental illness occurs. Whether or not such a shift is possible – and if so, how? – is a question too large to explore in the confines of this thesis, but one that the reader should consider.