Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Psychological and Social Foundations

Major Professor

Tony Tan, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Sarah Kiefer, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Kathleen Moore, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jennifer Wolgemuth, Ph.D.


acute psychiatric care, adolescent development, adolescent mental health, crisis stabilization, involuntary commitment


Psychiatric hospitalization is an intensive treatment intervention, reserved for youth with severe mental illnesses, considered in imminent danger of harm to themselves and/or others. Although the prevalence of youth that are psychiatrically hospitalized continues to rise, there remains a gap in the available research about adolescents’ appraisals of their inpatient treatment, as most studies draw conclusions from surveys, administered after patients are discharged. Not only does this limit insights about treatment changes that could be beneficial in reducing psychiatric hospital recidivism, but it also inhibits youth from sharing their subjective experiences. As such, the current study sought to develop a deeper understanding of the experiences of psychiatrically hospitalized youth by conducting in-depth, semi-structured interviews at the beginning and end of their psychiatric hospitalizations. Four themes (Family Fallout; Criminalized, Stigmatized, and Marginalized; Power of Peer Support; and Cultivating Change) were identified from the data. These themes captured the influence of precipitating factors and the complexities of inpatient treatment for psychiatrically vulnerable youth. By empowering adolescents to share their stories through interviews, the voices of those amidst psychiatric crises can be heard in ways that open up dialogues surrounding mental illness and begin to reduce stigma.