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Robert Whitley, PhD

Dr. Robert Whitley

Rob Whitley is the Principal Investigator of the Social Psychiatry Research and Interest Group (SPRING) at the Douglas Hospital Research Center. He is also an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at McGill University. His two main research (and action) interests are recovery and stigma. His research shows the importance of factors such as gainful employment, secure housing, religion/ spirituality and rewarding social connections in enhancing recovery from severe mental illness. It also shows the devastating impact of stigma. He takes a social justice and human rights approach to his activities, using his research results to push for change to promote recovery and diminish stigma. He has published over 100 papers in the field of social psychiatry, and his work has been funded by CIHR, FRSQ, NIDRR, and the MRC (U.K). He is currently the recipient of a CIHR New Investigator Award and an FRSQ Junior 1 Research Scholar Award. Current projects include (i) a study examining recovery in diverse ethno-cultural groups in Montreal; (ii) a longitudinal analysis of the tone and content of media coverage of mental illness in Canada; (iii) a participatory video study involving the creation, distribution and evaluation of anti-stigma and pro-recovery videos by people with mental illness.

While the focus of his activities is in Quebec and Canada, he is proud to be a member of a worldwide community of scholars devoted to promoting recovery and reducing stigma. As such, he maintains strong collaborations with numerous institutions, including Dartmouth Psychiatric Research Center, Howard University, the University of Addis Ababa, the University of the West Indies, the Institute of Psychiatry (King’s College London) and the University of Melbourne. Whitley is always available to discuss recovery and stigma with interested parties, and hopes one day to live in a world where people with mental illness can fulfill their potential and enjoy their full rights as citizens free of fear and stigma.

robert [dot] whitley [at] mcgill [dot] ca (email) website


Selected Articles

Whitley R, Adeponle A & Miller AR (in press) Comparing Gendered and Generic Representations of Mental Illness in Canadian Newspapers: An exploration of the Chivalry Hypothesis. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology

Jarvis E, Jurcik T, Bhat V, Spigonardo V & Whitley R (in press) Transatlantic variation in the attributed etiology of psychosis. International Journal of Social Psychiatry

Arthur C & Whitley R (in press) "Head Take You:" Causal attributions of mental illness in Jamaica. Transcultural Psychiatry

Poremski D, Whitley R & Latimer E (in press) Barriers to obtaining employment for people with severe mental illness experiencing homelessness. Journal of Mental Health

Zelkowitz P, King L, Whitley R et al. (in press) A comparison of immigrant and Canadian-born patients seeking fertility treatment. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health

King L, Tulandi T, Whitley R, Constantinescu T, Ells C & Zelkowitz P (in press) What’s the message? A content analysis of newspaper articles about assisted reproductive technology from 2005-2011. Human Fertility

Whitley R (2014) Beyond critique: rethinking roles for the anthropology of mental health. Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry 38(3): 499-511.

Whitley R & Campbell R D (2014) Stigma, agency and recovery amongst people with severe mental illness. Social Science & Medicine 107: 1-8. 

Whitley R & Henwood B (2014) Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness: Reframing inequities experienced by people living with severe mental illnesses. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal 37(1): 68-70.

McCrae N & Whitley R (2014) Exaltation in Temporal Lobe Epilepsy: Neuropsychiatric Symptom or Portal to the Divine? Journal of Medical Humanities 35(3): 241-55.

Drake R E & Whitley R (2014) Recovery and Severe Mental Illness: Description and Analysis. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry 59(5): 236-242.

Slade M, Amering M, Farkas M, … Whitley R (2014) Uses and abuses of recovery: implementing recovery-oriented practices in mental health systems. World Psychiatry 13(1): 12-20

Read SC, Carrier ME, Whitley R, Gold I, Tulandi T & Zelkowitz P (2014) Complementary and alternative medicine use in infertility: cultural and religious influences in a multicultural Canadian setting. The Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine 20(9): 686-92.

Read S C, Carrier M, Boucher M, Whitley R, Bond S, Zelkowitz P (2014) Psychosocial services for couples in fertility treatment: what do couples really want? Patient Education and Counseling 94: 390-395.

Whitley R (2013) Fear and Loathing in New England: Examining the Health-Care Perspectives of Homeless People in Rural Areas. Anthropology & Medicine 20(3): 232-243.

Whitley R & Berry S (2013) Analyzing Media Representations of Mental Illness: Lessons Learnt from a National Project. Journal of Mental Health 22(3): 246-253.

Whitley R & Berry S (2013) Trends in Newspaper Coverage of Mental Illness in Canada: 2005-2010. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry 58: 107-12.

Henwood B & Whitley R (2013) Creating a recovery-oriented society: Research and action. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 47(7): 609-610.

Cabassa L, Nicasio A & Whitley R (2013) Picturing recovery: A photovoice exploration of recovery dimensions among people with serious mental illness. Psychiatric Services 64: 837-842.

Carpenter-Song E & Whitley R (2013) Behind the Scenes of a Research and Training Collaboration: Power, Privilege, and the Hidden Transcript of Race. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry 37: 288-306

Glover C M, Ferron J & Whitley R (2013) Barriers to Exercise Among People with Severe Mental Illness. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal 36: 45-7

Begum A, Whitley R, Banerjee S, Matthews D, Stewart R & Morgan C (2013) Help-seeking response to subjective memory complaints in older adults: towards a conceptual model. The Gerontologist 53(3): 462-473

Whitley R (2012) Religious competence as cultural competence. Transcultural Psychiatry 49: 245-60

Whitley R (2012) ‘Thank you God’: Religion and recovery from dual diagnosis among low-income African Americans. Transcultural Psychiatry 49: 87-104

Whitley R (2012) Anti-Psychiatry: dead, diminishing or developing? Psychiatric Services 63: 1039-41

Whitley R & Siantz E (2012) Recovery Centers for People with a Mental Illness: an Emerging Best Practice? Psychiatric Services 63: 10-12

Whitley R, Strickler D & Drake R E (2012) Recovery Centers for People with Severe Mental Illness: A Survey of Programs. Community Mental Health Journal 48: 547-556

Wu CY, Whitley, R, Stewart R & Liu SI (2012) Pathways to Care and Help-Seeking Experience Prior to Self-Harm: A Qualitative Study in Taiwan. Journal of Nursing Research 20: 32-42

Lewis S E & Whitley R (2012) A Critical Examination of “Morality” in Mental Health Research and Practice. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry 36: 735-743

Carpenter-Song E, Hipolito M & Whitley R (2012) “Right here is an oasis”: How ‘Recovery Communities’ Contribute to Recovery for People with Severe Mental Illness. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal 35: 435-40

Hipolito M, Carpenter-Song E, Malik M & Whitley R (2012) Capacity building for African American mental health training and research: lessons from the Howard-Dartmouth collaborative summer school. Academic Psychiatry 36: 47-50

Gonzalez J M, Cortes D E, Reeves T, Whitley R, Lopez L, Bond G R, Velligan D I & Miller A L (2012) Community mental health agency views of research Community Mental Health Journal 48: 223-31

Whitley R (2011) Social defeat or social resistance? Reaction to fear of crime and violence among people with severe mental illness living in urban 'recovery communities'. Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry 35: 519-35

Whitley R, Rousseau C, Carpenter-Song E & Kirmayer L (2011) Evidence-Based Medicine: opportunities and challenges in a diverse society. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry 56: 514-22

Carpenter-Song E, Whitley R, Lawson W B, Quimby E & Drake R E (2011) Reducing disparities in mental health care: suggestions from the Dartmouth-Howard Collaboration. Community Mental Health Journal 47: 1-13

Barre L K, Ferron J, Davis K & Whitley R (2011) Healthy eating in persons with serious mental illness: understanding and barriers. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal 34: 304-10

Hipolito M, Carpenter-Song E & Whitley R (2011) Meanings of Recovery from the Perspective of People with Dual Diagnosis. Journal of Dual Diagnosis 7: 141-9

Whitley R, Kostick K & Bush P (2010) Desirable characteristics and competencies of supported employment specialists: an empirically grounded framework. Administration and Policy in Mental Health Services Research 37: 509-19

Whitley R & Drake R (2010) Recovery: a dimensional approach. Psychiatric Services 61: 1248-50

Whitley R (2010) Atheism and Mental Health. Harvard Review of Psychiatry 18: 190-4

Whitley R (2010) Rediscovering hope. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal 33: 239-41

Whitley R & Lawson W B (2010) The psychiatric rehabilitation of African-Americans with Severe Mental Illness. Psychiatric Services 61: 508-11

Kostick K, Whitley R & Bush P (2010) Client centeredness in supported employment: specialist and supervisor perspectives. Journal of Mental Health 19: 523-31

Woltmann E & Whitley R (2010) Shared decision making in public mental health care: perspectives from consumers living with severe mental illness. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal 34: 29-36

Groleau D, Whitley R, Lesperance F & Kirmayer L (2010) Spiritual reconfigurations of self after a myocardial infarction: influence of culture and place. Health and Place 16: 853-60

Hanlon C, Whitley R, Wondimagegn D, Alem A & Prince M (2010) Between life and death: exploring the socio-cultural context of antenatal mental distress in rural Ethiopia. Archives of Women’s Mental Health 13: 385-93

Swain K, Whitley R, McHugo G J & Drake R E (2010) The sustainability of evidence based practices in routine mental health settings. Community Mental Health Journal 46: 119-29

Frounfelker R, Glover C, Teachout A, Wilkniss S & Whitley R (2010) Access to supported employment for consumers with criminal justice involvement. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal 34: 49-56

Arthur C, Hickling F W, Robertson-Hickling H, Gibson R & Whitley R (2010) “Mad, sick, head nuh good”: mental illness in Jamaican Communities. Transcultural Psychiatry 47: 252-275

Davis K, Brunette M, Vorhies V, Ferron J & Whitley R (2010) A qualitative study of how individuals with severe mental illness assess smoking risk. Mental Health and Substance Use: Dual Diagnosis 3: 110-23

Whitley R, Kostick K M & Bush P W (2009) Supported employment specialist strategies to assist clients with severe mental illness and criminal justice issues. Psychiatric Services 60: 1637-41

Whitley R (2009) Mastery of mothering skills and satisfaction with associated health services: a socio-cultural study. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry 33: 343-365

Whitley R (2009) The implications of race and ethnicity for shared decision making. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal 32: 227-230

Whitley R (2009) Introducing psychiatrists to qualitative research: a guide for instructors. Academic Psychiatry 33: 252-5

Whitley R, Gingerich S, Lutz W & Mueser K T (2009) Facilitators and Barriers to the Implementation of the Illness Management and Recovery Program in Community Mental Health Settings. Psychiatric Services 60: 202-9

Hanlon C, Whitley R, Alem A, Wondi D & Prince M (2009) Postnatal mental distress in relation to the sociocultural practices of childbirth: an exploratory qualitative study from Ethiopia. Social Science and Medicine 69: 1211-19

Strickler D, Whitley R, Becker D & Drake R (2009) First person accounts of long-term employment activity among people with dual diagnosis. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal 32: 261-8

Anbesse B, Hanlon C, Alem A, Packer S & Whitley R. (2009) Migration and mental health: a study of low-income Ethiopian women working in middle-eastern countries. International Journal of Social Psychiatry 55: 557-68

Bond G R, Drake R E, McHugo G J, Rapp C A & Whitley R (2009) Strategies for improving fidelity in the National Evidence-Based Practices Project. Research on Social Work Practice 19: 569-81

Kirmayer L J, Sehdev M, Whitley R, Dandeneau S & Isaac C (2009) Community Resilience: models, metaphors and measures. Journal of Aboriginal Health 5: 62-117

Mancini, A., Moser, L, Whitley R, McHugo G, Bond G, Finnerty M & Burns B (2009) Assertive Community Treatment: Facilitators and Barriers to Implementation in Routine Mental Health Settings. Psychiatric Services 60: 189-95

Drake R E, Wilkniss S, Frounfelker R, Whitley R, Zipple A M, McHugo G J & Bond G R (2009) The Thresholds-Dartmouth partnership and research on shared decision making. Psychiatric Services 60: 142-4

Whitley R & Kirmayer L J (2008) Perceived stigmatization of young mothers: an exploratory study of psychological and social experience. Social Science and Medicine 66: 339-48

Whitley R, Harris M & Drake R E (2008) Safety and security in small-scale recovery housing for people with severe mental illness: an inner-city case study. Psychiatric Services 59: 165-9

Whitley R, Harris M, Fallot R D & Wolfson-Berley R (2008) The active ingredients of intentional recovery communities:  Focus group evaluation. Journal of Mental Health 17: 173-182

Whitley R & Green S (2008) Psychosocial stressors and buffers affecting Black Women in Montreal. Canadian Journal of Community Mental Health 27: 37-48

Whitley R, Harris M & Anglin J. (2008) Refuge or rehabilitation? Assessing the development of a Women’s Empowerment Center for people with Severe Mental Illness. Community Mental Health Journal 44: 253-60

Whitley R (2008) Postmodernity and mental health. Harvard Review of Psychiatry 16: 352-64

Whitley R (2008) Is psychiatry a religion? Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 101: 579-82

Woltmann E, Whitley R, McHugo G, Brunette M, Torrey W, Coots L & Drake R. (2008) The role of staff turnover in implementation of evidence-based practices in mental health. Psychiatric Services 59: 732-7

Shiner B, Whitley R, Van Citters A & Bartels S. (2008) Learning what matters for patients:  Qualitative analysis of a health promotion program for those with serious mental illness. Health Promotion International 23: 275-82

Marty D, Rapp C, McHugo G & Whitley R (2008) Factors Influencing Consumer Outcome Monitoring in Implementation of Evidence-Based Practices:  Results from the National EBP Implementation Project. Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research 35: 204-211

Bond G R, McHugo G, Becker D R, Rapp C A & Whitley R. (2008) Fidelity of supported employment: lessons learned from the National Evidence-Based Practice Project. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal 31: 300-5

Rapp C A, Etzel-Wise D, Marty D, Coffman M, Carlson L, Asher D, Callaghan J & Whitley R (2008) Evidence-Based Practice Implementation Strategies: Results of a Qualitative Study. Community Mental Health Journal 44: 213-24

Brunette M F, Asher D, Whitley R, Lutz W J, Wieder B L, Jones A M & McHugo G J (2008) Implementation of integrated dual disorder treatment. A qualitative analysis of facilitators and barriers. Psychiatric Services 59: 989-95

Whitley R (2007) Cultural competence, evidence-based medicine and evidence-based practices. Psychiatric Services 58: 1588-90

Whitley R (2007) Mixed-methods studies. Journal of Mental Health 16: 697-701

Whitley R & Hickling F (2007) Open papers, Open Minds? Media representations of psychiatric deinstitutionalization in Jamaica.  Transcultural Psychiatry 44: 659-71 

Woltmann E & Whitley R (2007) The Role of Staffing Stability in the Implementation of Integrated Dual Disorders Treatment: An Exploratory Study. Journal of Mental Health 16: 697-701

Becker D, Whitley R, Drake R & Bailey E (2007) Long-term employment trajectories among supported employment participants with severe mental illness. Psychiatric Services 58: 922-8

McHugo G J, Drake R E, Whitley R, Bond G R, Campbell, K, Rapp C A, Goldman H H, Lutz W J, & Finnerty M T (2007) Fidelity outcomes in the national implementing evidence-based practices project.  Psychiatric Services 58: 1279-84

Whitley R, Kirmayer L J & Groleau D (2006) Public pressure, private protest:  Illness narratives of West Indian immigrants in Montreal with medically unexplained symptoms.  Anthropology & Medicine, 13, 193-205

Whitley R, Kirmayer L J & Groleau D (2006) Understanding immigrants' reluctance to use mental health services:  a qualitative study from Montreal. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 51: 205-209, 2006

Whitley R & Prince M (2006) Can urban regeneration programmes assist coping and recovery for people with mental illness?  Suggestions from a qualitative case study. Health Promotion International, 21: 19-26

Whitley R, Prince M, McKenzie K & Stewart R (2006) Exploring the ethnic density effect:  a qualitative study of a London electoral ward. International Journal of Social Psychiatry, 52, 376-391

Parissis M, Whitley R & Ward A (2006) Predictors of engagement in psychodynamic psychotherapy deriving from pre-assessment questionnaires. Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, 20, 281-296

Whitley R & Prince M (2005) Fear of crime, mobility and mental health in inner-city London, UK. Social Science and Medicine 61: 1678-1688

Whitley R & Prince M (2005) Is there a link between rates of common mental disorder and deficits in social capital in Gospel Oak, London? Results from a qualitative study. Health and Place 11: 237-248

Whitley R, Prince M & Cargo M (2005) Thinking Inside the Bubble: Evidence for a New Contextual Unit in Urban Mental Health. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 59: 893-897

Whitley R & Crawford M (2005) Qualitative Research in Psychiatry. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry 50: 108-114

Whitley R & McKenzie K (2005) Social Capital and Psychiatry: Review of the Literature. Harvard Review of Psychiatry 13: 71-84

Whitley R & Prince M (2005) Are inner-cities bad for your health? Comparisons of residents’ and third-parties’ perceptions of the urban neighbourhood of Gospel Oak, London. Sociology of Health and Illness 27: 44-67

Jarvis G E, Kirmayer L J, Jarvis G K & Whitley R (2005) The role of Afro-Canadian status in police or ambulance referral to emergency psychiatric services. Psychiatric Services 56: 705-10

Stewart R, Prince M, Harwood R, Whitley R & Mann A (2002) Quality of Accommodation and Risk of Depression. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry 17: 1091-1098

McKenzie K, Whitley R & Weich S (2002) Social Capital and Mental Health. British Journal of Psychiatry 181: 280-3

Governmental and Non-Governmental Reports

Whitley R & Kirmayer L (2010) Analyse des meilleurs moyens pour mesurer le capital social. L’institut de la statistique du Quebec, Quebec City.

Kirmayer L J, Fraser S, Fauras V & Whitley R (2010) Current approaches to Aboriginal Health Suicide Prevention. Health Canada, Ottawa.

Kirmayer L J, Whitley R & Fauras V (2010) Community team approaches to mental health services and wellness promotion. Health Canada, Ottawa.

Kirmayer L J, Sehdev M, Whitley R, Dandeneau S & Isaac C (2009) Community Resilience: models, metaphors and measures. National Aboriginal Health Organization, Ottawa.

Pierre A, Minn P, Sterlin C, Annoual P, Jaimes A, Raphael F, Raikhel E, Whitley R, Rousseau C & Kirmayer L (2010) Culture and Mental Health in Haiti: a Literature Review. WHO: Geneva (reprinted in Revue Haitienne de Santé Mentale 1: 13-42 and Sante Mentale au Quebec 35: 13-47)

Editorials and Commentaries

Whitley R (2014) Introducing Recovery. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry 59(5): 233-235

Whitley R (2012) Commentary on “Substance Abuse Recovery After Experiencing Homelessness and Mental Illness: Case Studies of Change Over Time”. Journal of Dual Diagnosis 8: 247-9

Whitley R (2012) The personal memoirs of people with severe mental illness. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal 35: 355-60

Whitley R (2011) Commentary: Being gay in straight places--exploring density effects on the mental health of homosexual and bisexual populations. International Journal of Epidemiology 40: 1081-2

Whitley R & Drake R E (2008). How Do Clients Obtain Mental Health Information? Commentary on "Consumer Perspectives on Information and Other Inputs to Decision-Making: Implications for Evidence-Based Practice". Community Mental Health Journal 44: 457-8

Whitley R (2005) Client involvement in mental services research. Psychiatric Services 56: 1315 LETTER

Whitley R, Kirmayer L J, & Jarvis E (2004) Cultural consultation in psychiatric practice. British Journal of Psychiatry 185: 76 LETTER


Selected Book Chapters

Berry, S., and Whitley, R. (in press) Stigmatizing Representations: Criminality, Violence, and Mental Illness in Canadian Mainstream Media. in “Covering Canadian Crimes: What Journalists Should Know and the Public Should Question”, (eds) Smith R & Richardson C, University of Toronto Press

Whitley R (2012) The Mental Health of Immigrants (Part 14, pp1072-1076). In Sajatovic M & Loue S (eds.) Encyclopedia of Immigrant Health. Springer. New York.

Adeponle A, Whitley R & Kirmayer L J (2012) Recovery in Cultural Context (Chapter 8, pp109-132). In Rudnick A (ed.). Recovery of People with Mental Illness. Oxford University Press. Oxford, UK.

Whitley R (2012) Stigmatisation et maladie mentale (pp 44- 48). In Fleury M-J & Grenier G (eds.) État de situation sur la santé mentale au Québec et réponse du système de santé et de services sociaux. Commissaire à la santé et au bien-être. Quebec, CA.

Whitley R (2011) Qualitative Research Methods in Mental Health (Chapter 35, pp305-311). In Thornicroft G, Mueser K & Drake E (eds.) Oxford Textbook of Community Mental Health. Oxford University Press. Oxford, UK.

Arthur C M, Hickling F W, Gibson R, Robertson-Hickling G, Abel W D, Haynes-Robinson T and Whitley R (2008) The stigma of mental illness in Jamaica (Chapter 5, p113-130). In Hickling FW et al (eds.) Perspectives in Caribbean Psychology. CARIMENSA, Kingston, Jamaica. 

Whitley R (2007) Social capital and public health- qualitative and ethnographic approaches (Chapter 6, pp95-115) In Kawachi I, Subramanian S V & Kim D (eds.) Social Capital and Health. Springer. New York.

Whitley R (2006) An ethnographic study of social capital and mental health in Gospel Oak, London, UK. In McKenzie K and Harpham T (eds.) Social Capital and Mental Health (pp71-85). Jessica Kingsley, London.