Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Michael V. Angrosino, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Susan D. Greenbaum, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Kevin A. Yelvington, Ph.D.


Anthropology, Political economy, Illness, Legislation, Barriers


During the summer of 2004 I interned with the Mental Health Association of Greater Tampa Bay (MHA), a local affiliate of the National Mental Health Association. My time spent with the MHA became a gateway into the world of mental health. In the course of fulfilling my duties, I developed a particular interest in understanding the services that are available to persons, especially adults seeking treatment/services for mental illness. Through the MHA I was introduced to a wide range of people who have some link to mental health services, including psychiatrists, therapists, policy makers, and lawyers. This thesis utilizes an anthropological perspective to review the mental health policies, services, and provider networks available in the Tampa Bay region.

My findings reflect the views of providers of or advocates for mental health services. This thesis is therefore presented as a necessary baseline and prelude to a more comprehensive study of consumer/client responses to the system. My data suggests that mental health services in Florida provide only a patchwork of services: there are not enough professional service providers to handle the actual patient load. Providers of mental health services who serve the uninsured are particularly overburdened. The largest barrier to providing treatment is underfunding, relative to the actual cost of services. Treatment is also impacted by the stigma attached to seeking mental health services.