© 2013

Handbook of the Sociology of Mental Health

  • Carol S. Aneshensel
  • Jo C. Phelan
  • Alex Bierman


  • Comprehensive scope, covering both the societal causes and effects of mental illness

  • Updated research on treatment and health care disparities in mental health

  • Highlights the sociological influence of race, gender, age and socioeconomic status on the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness


Part of the Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research book series (HSSR)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxi
  2. Carol S. Aneshensel, Jo C. Phelan, Alex Bierman
    Pages 1-19
  3. Conceptualizations of Mental Health and Illness

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 21-21
    2. Martha L. Bruce, Patrick J. Raue
      Pages 41-59
    3. Peter Conrad, Caitlin Slodden
      Pages 61-73
    4. Jason Schnittker
      Pages 75-93
  4. Methodology

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 113-113
    2. Galen E. Switzer, Mary Amanda Dew, Evelyn J. Bromet
      Pages 115-141
  5. The Social Distribution of Mental Health and Illness

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 167-167
    2. Kenneth F. Ferraro, Lindsay R. Wilkinson
      Pages 183-203
    3. Carles Muntaner, Edwin Ng, Christophe Vanroelen, Sharon Christ, William W. Eaton
      Pages 205-227
    4. Jane D. McLeod
      Pages 229-253
    5. Tony N. Brown, Katharine M. Donato, Mary Therese Laske, Ebony M. Duncan
      Pages 255-276
    6. Sarah Rosenfield, Dawne Mouzon
      Pages 277-296
  6. Social Antecedents

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 297-297
    2. Blair Wheaton, Marisa Young, Shirin Montazer, Katie Stuart-Lahman
      Pages 299-323

About this book


This second edition of the Handbook of the Sociology of Mental Health features theory-driven reviews of recent research with a comprehensive approach to the investigation of the ways in which society shapes the mental health of its members and the lives of those who have been diagnosed as having a mental illness

The award-winning Handbook is distinctive in its focus on how the organization and functioning of society influences the occurrence of mental disorder and its consequences. A core issue that runs throughout the text concerns the differential distribution of mental illness across various social strata, defined by status characteristics such as gender, race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and age. The contributions to this volume shed light on the social, cultural, and economic factors that explain why some social groups have an elevated risk of disorder. They also address the social repercussions of mental disorder for  individuals, including stigmatization within the larger society, and for their families and social networks.

The second edition of this seminal volume includes substantial updates to previous chapters, as well as seven new chapters on: -The Individual’s Experience of Mental Illness.--The Medicalization of Mental Illness.---Age, Aging, and Mental Health.- -Religion and Mental Health.- -Neighborhoods and Mental Health.- -Mental Health and the Law—and Public Beliefs about Mental Illness.




Age Differences in Mental Disorder Behaviorak Model of Health Service Utilization Community/ survey / studies of mental illness Impact of Mental Health on Families Meanings of Mental Illness Mental Disorders Psycchiatric Disorder Religion and Mental Health Social Consequences of Personal Control The Sociology of Work and Well-Being

Editors and affiliations

  • Carol S. Aneshensel
    • 1
  • Jo C. Phelan
    • 2
  • Alex Bierman
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Community Health Sciences Fielding School of Public HealthUniversity of California, Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Department of Sociomedical Sciences Mailman School of Public HealthColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Department of SociologyUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

About the editors

Carol S. Aneshensel is Professor, Department of Community Health Sciences at the Fielding School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles.  She specializes in the fields of the sociology of mental health and medical sociology, with an emphasis on the social origins of stress and its impact on depression. Her work spans the life course from adolescence through advanced old age. Her most recent work examines the linkages between the socioeconomic stratification and racial/ethnic segregation of neighborhoods and mental health.  She has received the Leonard I. Pearlin Award for distinguished contributions to the sociological study of mental health and the Leo G. Reeder Award for distinguished contributions to medical sociology from the American Sociological Association. 

Jo C. Phelan is Professor of Sociomedical Sciences and Co-Director of the Center for the Study of Social Inequalities and Health at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. Her broad research focus is on social inequalities, particularly on the interplay between social structural conditions and social psychological processes in producing, maintaining or changing those inequalities. Her current research interests include socioeconomic inequalities as “fundamental causes” of inequalities in health and mortality; public conceptions of mental illness; and stigma, particularly stigma associated with mental illnesses.

Alex Bierman is Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Calgary.  His research is broadly concerned with using mental health as a means to illustrate the importance of structural arrangements for individuals’ lives.  His current research interests include examining how social statuses and a life course context intersect to shape the relationship between stressors and mental health.  An additional area of inquiry focuses on exploring the social and psychological mechanisms that may help to explain the relationship between religious involvement and mental health.

Bibliographic information


From the reviews of the second edition:

“Aneshensel, Phelan, and Bierman have compiled an anthology of academic essays showing how mental illness plays out within these social spaces … . the handbook project is readable, and as comfortable with theory as with the complex human qualities of mental illness. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries.” (E. A. Danto, Choice, Vol. 51 (6), February, 2014)