Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


The College of Human Sciences and Education

Document Type



There are few qualitative studies that document the knowledge and perceptions of faculty and staff about college students that has bipolar disorder. Previous studies of college students with mental health challenges have been found to focus only on a particular race, be outdated, largely quantified (Stein, 2014), or only focused on certain disorders such as: autism spectrum disorder, anxiety, or depression. This qualitative study responded to this gap in the literature by gaining an understanding of university faculty and staff knowledge and perceptions of African American college students with bipolar disorder experiences while attending a Predominantly White Institution, their perceptions on their ability to assist this special population, their knowledge and perceptions of available university resources, and their perceptions on universal policies and procedures to assist this special population. The research from this study will give an increased insight to the issues in university policies and practices, the classroom experience of this special population of college students, as well as faculty and staff “raw narratives” on the services they provide (Lemley & Mitchell, 2012).

This qualitative research utilized constructivism as its theoretical framework, in addition a case study methodology was utilized to obtain and explore the narratives of the study participants in order to gain a deeper understanding of their knowledge and perceptions. Four participants were identified by convenience and purposive sampling. Each study participant was currently employed (as a faculty member, staff member, or both) or had been previously employed in a public predominantly white institution. This information amongst other information was gathered from a preliminary questionnaire that was completed prior to individuals participating in the study. Data was collected through semi-structured interviews. Participants were interviewed in person for approximately an hour and a half. An additional interview lasting 30 minutes to an hour long was used to gather additional information, only if needed. Data analysis generated themes that assisted the researcher in understanding the perceptions of the study participants that can lead to: awareness, advocacy, increased education to faculty and staff, and universal policies and procedures that can assist this special population of students.



Committee Chair

Mitchell, Roland