Becki KellyFollow




School of Education


Doctor of Education (EdD)


Tamika Hibbert


Mental Disorders in Education, Stigma of Mental Disorder, Teacher Emotions, Teacher Mental Illness, Teacher Professionalism, Teacher Stress


Education | Educational Administration and Supervision | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Educational Leadership | Educational Methods | Elementary and Middle and Secondary Education Administration


The purpose of this hermeneutic phenomenological study is to describe the experiences of nine classroom teachers with clinically diagnosed mental disorders in the southern part of the metro Atlanta area. An ontological philosophical assumption is utilized through a social constructivist view while framed through the modified labeling theory (Link, Cullen, Struening, Shrout, & Dohrenwend, 1989) and the social identity theory (Tajfel, Billig, Bundy, & Flament, 1971). The central research question is: How do classroom teachers diagnosed with a mental disorder describe their experiences in the school environment? Research questions cover (a) their emotions and the prevalence of them, (b) their relationships with their students and peers, (c) their sense of professionalism, and (d) stigma and disclosure. The data collection methods include interviews, a dyadic focus group, and journaling. Data was analyzed by continuous reading of data, memoing and highlighting, reflecting and then categorized, subcategorized, and coded with text segments. The four themes that emerged are (a) Teaching is Very Stressful, (b) Medication is the Key to “Normalcy”, (c) Not Everyone can be Trusted, and (d) Having Mental Disorders is Not All Bad. Other results include problems with sleep, negative emotions, administrator bullying, family issues, feeling the students are not the first priority, and the view that many other colleagues have undiagnosed mental disorders. Final considerations include comments for school systems and governance. Future research is needed in programs and interventions for educators who struggle with diagnosed mental disorders.