ASA Mental Health Section

The purpose of the Section on Sociology of Mental Health is to provide an integrative supportive framework for research on social factors in mental health.

The Mental Health Section considers issues ranging from serious mental disorders to subjective indicators of quality of life. The focus is on research and theory pertaining to social processes and mental health functioning.

Join the American Sociological Association (ASA)

Click the link above to join or renew your membership for the American Sociological Association. If you are already a member of ASA, you may use the link to join the Mental Health Section.

Programs and Structure

ASA Minority Fellowship Program

Program Description

The MFP fellowship is a pre-doctoral training program intended for the development of sociologists of color interested in mental health and drug abuse research. Sociological research and research training should focus on the causes, treatment, or prevention of mental disorders or drug abuse. MFP seeks to attract talented doctoral students to ensure a diverse and highly trained workforce is available to assume leadership. The program is co-funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA). Research on core areas of the research missions of NIMH and NIDA include schizophrenia, depression, eating disorders, anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, drug abuse and addiction across the life course. In addition, research focusing on stigma associated with mental disorders and drug abuse, compliance to treatment; disparities in access, treatment, and service delivery; assessments of risk and protective factors of mental disorders; and abuse are all relevant to the missions and priorities of the NIMH and NIDA. Sociologists have much to contribute to these research agendas, including basic research on health disparities, the characteristics of service delivery systems that work, and the characteristics of strategies for their successful wide spread implementation.

Mentorship Program

Mission Statement

The purpose of this program is to connect graduate students with research interests in the sociology of mental health to a faculty mentor with a similar research area of interest at a different institutional setting.  

The Mentor Relationship  

The relationship between a faculty mentor and graduate student might resemble the advisor/advisee relationships. Faculty mentors may provide feedback on graduate student research papers, guidance on research ideas, give advice or information with regard to professional development, and potentially make an effort to meet up at the mental health section reception during the ASA annual meetings.  

How to get involved  

Graduate students:
Look over the list of faculty mentors and identify a faculty mentor with research interests similar to your own – you may also wish to do a quick literature search for their most recent publications and familiarize yourself with those works. Then, send an email to that faculty mentor with a brief research statement and a description of the specific type of assistance you are looking for from the faculty mentor. In the email, be sure to refer to the Mentoring Program through the Mental Health Section of ASA. 

If you would like to become a faculty mentor or have your name removed from the list of faculty mentors on the ASA Mental Health Section website, then contact Christina Falci For individuals who want to become a faculty mentor, please provide me with your full name, research interests and institutional affiliation


Established November 1991, Revised by referendum 1996, 2005


The purpose of the Section on the Sociology of Mental Health is to provide an integrative and supportive organizational framework for sociological research on mental health. It encourages this purpose through meeting participation, conferences, publications, and other means deemed appropriate by the Council of the Section. The Section does not promote a particular definition of mental health; rather, the term is inclusive, ranging from serious mental disorders through subjective indicators of the quality of life.

Officers and Council

The Officers of the Section shall consist of the following: a Chair, a Chair-elect, a Past Chair, and a Secretary-Treasurer. The Council consists of the Officers and eight additional members. The eight additional Council members include the Chair of the Nominating Committee, Chair of the Publications Committee, the Newsletter Editor, Chair of the Mental Health Section Award Committee, Membership Chair, Chair-elect of the Nominating Committee, and two standing members, one of whom will be a graduate student. All members of Council, with the exception of the Newsletter Editor (who is appointed), shall be elected by the membership. Council members serve two-year terms, except the Chair (who is on Council for three years, as Chair-elect, Chair, and Past Chair) and the Newsletter Editor (who serves a four-year term).  

Responsibilities of the Section Officers are as follows. The Chair-elect will serve in the first year as a member of the Program and Awards Committees. The Chair will serve as Chair of the Council, Program Committee Chair, and Presider at the annual business meeting. The Past Chair remains on Council and serves as a member of the Awards Committee. The Secretary-Treasurer shall take and circulate minutes of meeting, and keep and present documents and financial records of the Section.  

Annual elections will alternate between two versions. In odd years, elections will be for Chair-elect, Chair-elect of the Nominating Committee, Chair of the Publications Committee, the Membership Chair, and one standing Council member. In even years, elections will be for Chair-elect, Chair-elect of the Nominating Committee, Secretary-Treasurer, Chair of the Awards Committee, and the student member.  

Officers may not succeed themselves. No member may hold two elective offices simultaneously. No member may be a member of Council for more than a continuous five-year period, and no member may hold Council positions for more than seven years of any ten-year period.  

The Newsletter Editor shall be appointed by the Publications Committee Chair and confirmed by Council. The term of office shall be four years.  

Only members of the American Sociological Section who are also members of the Section on the Sociology of Mental Health are eligible to hold office. A student holding a position as standing member of Council must be a student member of the ASA, a student member of the Section, and be currently enrolled in a graduate program at the time of election.  

Current section Officers and other Council members have voting rights at Council meetings. The Chair-elect of the Nominations Committee, Newsletter Editor, and incoming Officers and Council members shall have voice but not vote.  

If an elected office is vacated before the end of the term, it will be filled for the unexpired term by appointment of the Chair as approved by the Council. 

Powers of the Council

The Council is vested with the power to carry out all necessary operations for the Section, acting as the representatives of the membership. To that end, it shall meet annually on the occasion of the ASA Annual Meeting. The Council shall make decisions by majority rule of its attending, voting members. The Council meeting is restricted to Council members and invited guests. The general business meeting is open to all Section members and shall be devoted to discussion of issues presented by Council or by membership.  

Questions to be brought before the Section membership for approval may originate with the Council itself, by a petition of 10 percent of the Section membership or by 25 members of the Section (whichever is less), and may be referred to a ballot of Section members by the same means. Any resolution passed by the annual business meeting of the Section shall automatically be submitted to the Section membership by ballot.  

Elections and Voting

The elections of the Section shall be carried out in cooperation with the American Sociological Association and coordinated to its schedule. A simple majority of the members voting for each Council position shall determine the outcome, as it shall for all referenda or revisions of by-laws as may be submitted for vote. In the elections for seats on the Council (normally with two candidates per position), the two candidates having the largest number of votes shall be elected when two seats are available. Newly elected Officers and Council members shall assume office immediately after the adjournment of the business meeting of the Section at the Annual Meeting of the ASA. They are encouraged to attend the council meeting that occurs prior to the business meeting that marks the start of their terms, to familiarize themselves with other council members and upcoming work.  


There shall be a Nominating Committee, consisting of the Committee Chair, the Chair-elect of the Committee, and the student member of Council. The Nominating Committee shall present two members for each office to be voted on by the Section via ballot, as stipulated above. Candidates may also be added to the ballot by petitions of at least 25 members of the Section. In case of such petitions, there may be more than two choices for a particular position. Normally, members of the Nominating Committee will collect nomination forms at the annual business meeting, and after by mail, and will normally include the single most nominated member as one of their two choices. The other choice(s) will be determined by ranking by members of the Nominating Committee, from a list of names generated by nomination forms.  

There shall be a Program Committee, consisting of the Chair and Chair-elect of the Section. The Program Committee will appoint organizers for the upcoming year’s ASA sessions, and will oversee development of topics in these sessions. The committee will attempt to ensure year to year diversity among session offerings. The Program Committee will also work in conjunction with the ASA Program Committee to encourage sessions pertaining to the theme of the annual meeting as well as organize and encourage joint sessions with associated sections.  

There shall be a Publications Committee consisting of the Publications Chair and Newsletter-Editor. The purpose of this Committee will be to prepare a Section Newsletter to be distributed to section membership through the American Sociological Association. In addition, if special publication projects are undertaken by the Section, the Publications Committee will serve as the organizational arm of the Section in searching for and arranging appropriate publication sources.  

There shall be a Mental Health Awards Committee, which will consider entries for all Section awards (see below). The Chair of the Committee, the Chair-elect of the Section, the Past-Chair of the Section, and the non-student standing member of Council will serve as the Committee.  

The Membership Chair is responsible for encouraging Section membership through activities proposed to and approved by Council (ex. mailings to lapsed Section members). When deemed necessary, the Membership Chair may request appointment of additional committee members with Council approval.  

Other committees shall be appointed by the Chair with the approval of Council on an ad hoc basis. The tenure of an ad hoc committee shall be determined by Council at the time it is constituted. The Chair of the ad hoc committee shall have voice but no vote at Council meetings. 

Section Awards

The Section will consider three awards each year: The Leonard I. Pearlin Award for Distinguished Scholarly Contributions for the Sociological Study of Mental Health, the Best Publication of the Year award, and the Dissertation Award. Each award may be, but need not, be awarded each year. For the Best Publication Award, books, published articles, and book chapters that have appeared in print within a two-year period prior to the annual meeting will be considered. For the Dissertation Award, dissertations defended within the two academic years prior to the annual meeting will be considered. Awards will be presented at the annual business meeting or reception.  


The membership of the Section is open to any member of the American Sociological Association without regard to the classification of the membership. Members who do not pay their Section dues shall be suspended, and dropped from the roles after two years.  


Dues shall be set by the Council to cover the operation of the Section in accord with the requirements of the American Sociological Association.  

By-law Changes

Proposed changes in these by-laws must first be discussed at an annual business meeting of the Section, then approved by a majority of the Council, and finally approved by a majority of the Section members through a formal vote carried out in cooperation with the American Sociological Association.

Section Officers

Section Officers 2023-2024

Chair: Eric R. Wright, Georgia State University
Chair Elect: Lijun Song, Vanderbilt University

Past Chair: Donna McAlpine, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

Secretary-Treasurer: Lucie Kalousova, Vanderbilt University
Council Member-at-Large: Christy Erving, University of Texas at Austin
Nominations Committee Chair: Patricia Louie, University of Washington

Nominations Committee Chair-Elect: Rachel Donnelly, Vanderbilt University
Publications Committee Chair: Teresa Scheid, University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Membership Committee Chair: Lacee Satcher, Boston College
Awards Committee Chair: Michael Hughes, Virginia Tech
Student Member: Mercedes Tarasovich, University of Alabama at Birmingham
Section Journal Editor: Alex E. Bierman, University of Calgary and Scott Schieman, University of Toronto
Newsletter Editor: Teresa Scheid, University of North Carolina – Charlotte

Recognition and Communication


Leonard I. Pearlin Award for Distinguished Contributions

Past Recipients

This award is given for distinguished contributions to the sociological study of mental health. Thanks to a generous donation from Leonard Pearlin, the mental health section of the ASA has created this annual award. The award honors a scholar who has made substantial contributions in theory and/or research to the sociology of mental health. Nominations should include a CV of the nominee and a letter of support describing the nominee's contributions to the sociology of mental health. Nominations should be sent to the Awards Committee Chair for the Mental Health Section, Michael Hughes at, by January 15, 2024.

Award for Best Publication in Mental Health

Past Recipients

This award is given for the best published article, book, or chapter in the area of the sociology of mental health. . To be eligible for the award, the publication must have appeared in print between August 2022 and August 2024. The awards committee will also conduct a search of works published in the past two years for potential candidates for this award. Letters of nomination for this award should be sent to the Awards Committee Chair for the Mental Health Section, Michael Hughes at, by February 1, 2024

Award for Best Dissertation in Mental Health

Past Recipients

This award is given for the best doctoral dissertation in the area of the sociology of mental health. To be considered for this award, the dissertation must have been defended within the two academic years (2022-2023 and 2023-2024) prior to the annual meeting. While not required, a letter from your dissertation advisor would be helpful. Please send a letter of nomination and a dissertation synopsis or a paper based on the dissertation to the Awards Committee Chair for the Mental Health Section, Michael Hughes at, by March 1, 2024.

Graduate Student Paper Award

Past Recipients

This award is given to a current graduate student member of the section for the best published or unpublished article, book, or chapter in the area of mental health. To be considered for this award, the paper must have been completed within the two academic years (2022-2023 and 2023-2024) prior to the annual meeting by a current graduate student as the first author. Papers authored by more than one student are acceptable but papers coauthored with faculty are not eligible. Section members are encouraged to submit nominations. Self-nominations from graduate student members of the section are also welcome. Please send a letter of nomination and a paper to the Awards Committee Chair for the Mental Health Section, Michael Hughes at, by April 1, 2024.


If you have material that you wish to appear in our Newsletter, please contact Teresa Scheid the Newsletter Editor.

Current and Back Issues of Newsletters

Graduate Programs
Department of Sociology and Criminology
Graduate Programs 
with a Mental Health Concentration
Resources Data Sets
Rutgers University (Ph.D.) National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)  Americans View Their Mental Health
University of Calgary, Canada (M.A., Ph.D.) National Institutes of Health (NIH)  Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services 
University of Nebraska-Lincoln (M.A., Ph.D.) Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR)  Cost of Mental Health Care for Victims of Crime in the United States, 1991 (ICPSR 6581)
University of New Hampshire (M.A., Ph.D.) Health Services Research Information Central  Epidemiologic Catchment Area (ECA) Survey of Mental Disorders, Wave I (Household), 1980-1985: [United States] (ICPSR 8993)
University of Kentucky (M.A./M.S., Ph.D.) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)  Eurobarometer 73.2: Humanitarian Aid, Domestic Violence Against Women, and Mental Well-Being, February-March 2010 (ICPSR 29761)
University of New Mexico (M.A., Ph.D.) National Center for Health Statistics  Future of Families and Child Wellbeing Survey
Florida State University (M.A., Ph.D.) Networked Social Science Tools and Resources (NESSTAR)  Health and Retirement Study (HRS) 
Kent State University (Ph.D.) U.S. Census Bureau National Comorbidity Surveys
University of Maryland (M.A., Ph.D.) Data Resources for Sociologists, ASA National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health)
Indiana University, Bloomington (Ph.D.) The Center for Drug and Alcohol Studies (CDAS) National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH)
University of Georgia (Ph.D.) National Institute of on Drug Abuse  National Survey of Children’s Health 
University of Alabama-Birmingham (M.A., Ph.D.) National Prevention Information Network Mental Health and Learning Disabilities Dataset (MHLDDS)
California State University-Sacramento (M.A.) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)  Mental Health Concerns of Gay and Bisexual Men Seeking Mental Health Services, 2000 [United States] 
Florida Atlantic University (M.A.) RAND Drug Policy Research Center  NORC General Social Survey (GSS) 
  United Nations Statistics Division National Health Interview Survey, 1989: Mental Health Supplement (ICPSR 9403)
  Health Data at
Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods (PHDCN)
  National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) Policy Research on Aging and Mental Health Services (PRAMHS) Project (ICPSR 9043)
  Health Data Interactive   
  International Eurobarometer Data Service  
  Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research