Recent Research on Vocational Rehabilitation for Persons With Severe Mental Illness

Robert E Drake, Deborah R Becker, Gary R Bond


Curr Opin Psychiatry. 2003;16(4) 

In This Article

The Impact of Working

Several studies examined the experiences and effects of working, particularly the meaning, process, and non-vocational outcomes related to work, for individuals with mental illness. Using qualitative interviews, Provencher et al.[36] found that work had different meanings for different groups of clients but was inevitably part of their personal sense of recovery. Based on personal accounts of recovery, Ralph[37] described how disclosure of mental illness in the workplace can lead to acceptance and support as part of the recovery process. With quantitative methods, Rollins et al.[38] also found that employed clients often found supports from employers and coworkers. Angell and Test[39] found associations in a longitudinal data set suggesting a possible beneficial impact of working on social networks. According to a study by Donnell et al.,[40] clients reported that a strong working alliance with counselors was critical to maintaining employment. In addition to using supports, Killeen et al.[41] delineated a variety of coping strategies, such as negotiating accommodations, which clients reported using to maintain employment.

Casper and Fishbein[42] found that self-esteem was positively related to satisfaction and success with work, not merely to work status (work versus no work). Their study helped to clarify the complex and inconsistent relationship between working and self-esteem. Bryson et al.[43] found that pay and fuller participation in paid work activity led to increased quality of life and improvements in subjective areas (motivation, purpose, anhedonia, empathy). Tillyer and Accordino[44] described the personal accounts of several clients who are professional artists. For these individuals, work provided meaning and often restoration, even when it did not result in much income.


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