The role of positive and negative social interactions in child custody outcomes: Voices of US women with serious mental illness


By bhadmin February 2, 2021

In a given year, approximately 26 percent of persons in the United States 18 years and older suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder. About six percent are diagnosed with a serious mental illness and 65 percent of these are mothers. Mothers with serious mental illness are at increased risk of losing custody of their children. This report represents findings from a qualitative study of the relationship between positive and negative social interactions as three such women went through the process of experiencing threats to their children’s safety, relinquishing custody, and working to regain it (or to adjust to a permanent placement). Data collection involved semi-structured interviews. A thematic analysis of data was conducted. Among three conceptual models of social interactions – additive, moderating, and domain specific, the domain-specific model was prominent. Findings are discussed as preliminary to future similar studies involving larger samples. Tentative implications for policy, practice, and research are discussed.

Fahs-Beck Scholars

Meet the Scholars

Fahs-Beck Fellows

Meet the Fellows


Our grant programs are changing.


Learn more