OTCATS: Occupational Therapy Critically Appraised Topics
Introduction Topics Project Summary EBP Links Media Releases

People with mental illness in paid employment report that self management of mental health and support in and outside the workplace helps them to remain employed

Prepared by:

Rebecca Ponchard, Lizzy Talbot, Justin Rowe, 4th Year occupational therapy students, and Ellie Fossey, Senior Lecturer, La Trobe University, Victoria, Australia.


January 2010

Review Date:

January 2012

Clinical Question:

What are the helpful factors in sustaining employment from the perspective of people who experience mental illness and are currently employed in mainstream jobs?

Clinical Scenario:

Employment is a highly valued occupation in adult life as it provides role fulfilment, income, social contact, purpose, meaning, routine and structure (Waghorn & Lloyd, 2005). The rates of unemployment among people with mental illness remain very high. This does not mean that people experiencing mental illness are incapable or have no desire to work (King et al., 2006; Auerbach & Richardson, 2005; Henry & Lucca, 2004; Honey, 2000). Rather, many factors can limit individualís ability to obtain and maintain employment, including: a lack of resources and support; symptoms; medication effects; limited access to transport and finances; employer attitudes and lack of knowledge about how to support workers who experience mental illness. Greater understanding of the factors that assist people experiencing mental illness to obtain and sustain employment will help occupational therapists to better support individuals to achieve positive vocational outcomes. This evidence review aimed to investigate those factors that are helpful in sustaining mainstream employment from the perspective of people experiencing mental health issues.

Clinical Bottom Line:

Qualitative data from five studies involving employees with mental illness showed that self management of mental health and support in and outside the workplace were helpful to sustain paid employment.

Full Document:

Click to download PDF

File Size:


Supported by the University of Western Sydney
Funded by the Motor Accidents Authority of NSW
© 2003 Annie McCluskey. Disclaimer
University of Western Sydney Motor Accidents Authority of NSW