Community Integration Research: Mental Illness & Employment

Gainful employment reduces stigma toward people recovering from schizophrenia.

Perkins DV, Raines JA, Tschopp MK, Warner TC.  Department of Psychological Science, Ball State University, Muncie, IN 47306, USA.  Community Ment Health J. 2009 Jun;45(3):158-62. Epub 2008 Jul 24.

Stigma impedes the social integration of persons recovering from psychiatric disability, especially those with criminal histories. Little is known about factors that lessen this stigma. Four hundred and four adults listened to one of four vignettes describing a 25-year-old male with schizophrenia and responded to a standard set of items measuring social distance. The individual who was gainfully employed (vs. unemployed), or who had a prior misdemeanor (vs. felony) criminal offense, elicited significantly less stigma. Employment may destigmatize a person coping with both psychiatric disability and a criminal record. Mental health services should encourage paid employment and other paths to community integration.


Mental illness and employment discrimination.

Stuart H.  Department of Community Health and Epidemiology, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.  Curr Opin Psychiatry. 2006 Sep;19(5):522-6.

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Work is a major determinant of mental health and a socially integrating force. To be excluded from the workforce creates material deprivation, erodes self-confidence, creates a sense of isolation and marginalization and is a key risk factor for mental disability. This review summarizes recent evidence pertaining to employment-related stigma and discrimination experienced by people with mental disabilities. A broad understanding of the stigmatization process is adopted, which includes cognitive, attitudinal, behavioural and structural disadvantages.

RECENT FINDINGS: Stigma is both a proximate and a distal cause of employment inequity for people with a mental disability who experience direct discrimination because of prejudicial attitudes from employers and workmates and indirect discrimination owing to historical patterns of disadvantage, structural disincentives against competitive employment and generalized policy neglect. Against this background, modern mental health rehabilitation models and legislative philosophies, which focus on citizenship rights and full social participation, are to be welcomed. Yet, recent findings demonstrate that the legislation remains vulnerable to the very prejudicial attitudes they are intended to abate.

SUMMARY: Research conducted during the past year continues to highlight multiple attitudinal and structural barriers that prevent people with mental disabilities from becoming active participants in the competitive labour market.