Facilitators and barriers to employment for people with mental illness: A qualitative study
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BACKGROUND: Employment often has a defining role that shapes a person's identity. The aim of this study was to generate a rich description of the meaning of employment for people with mental illness and identify the facilitators and barriers they experience in gaining and sustaining employment. Low workforce participation rates exist for people with mental illness despite their ability to both benefit from, and contribute through, employment. OBJECTIVE: Individual in-depth interviews were used to gather information about participants' lived experiences of mental illness, what employment meant to them, their vocational aspirations, and the facilitators and barriers encountered while engaging in employment activities. METHODS: Focus groups (N= 3) and individual in-depth interviews (N= 9) were used to gather information about participants' lived experiences of mental illness, what vocation meant to them, their vocational aspirations, and the facilitators and barriers encountered while engaging in or pursuing employment. An inclusive research approach was employed in conducting interpretive phenomenological analysis. RESULTS: Four themes and nine subthemes described the meaning of employment, aspirations, and personal choices. Personal barriers to vocation included loss of valued roles, challenges of the vocational environment, and restrictions in opportunities. Examples of facilitators of employment were mental health services providers, family, and friends. Participants pursued paid employment because they wanted outcomes that would lead to work satisfaction such as making money, having financial security, socialising, and having a sense of achievement. CONCLUSION: Engaging in meaningful vocation allowed people with mental illness to establish and re-establish their identities and valued life roles.
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