Employees and Mental Illness

In 2018 the stigma of mental illness still plagues the workplace, along with the direct and indirect costs associated with healthcare and lost productivity. In the face of negative attributions attached to mental health conditions, how do employees manage their conditions as well as the demands of their jobs? How do organizations develop cultures and systems that allow employees with mental illness to thrive in their respective roles while minimizing the costs for workers and the companies who employ them? How is mental illness conceptualized as a unique social identity warranting increased attention in management research? What are the avenues for future scholarly attention?

A recent article offers insights and contributions to the literature, as well as raising implications for policy and practice. Kayla B. Follmer of Salisbury University and Kisha S. Jones of The Pennsylvania State University recently published “Mental Illness in the Workplace: An Interdisciplinary Review and Organizational Research Agenda” in the Journal of Management. With millions of adults affected annually by mental illness and many active in the workforce, the need is great to supplant the limited knowledge of many organizations and leaders on how to support employees with mental illness.

From the Abstract:

Given the prevalence of and consequences associated with mental illness in the workplace, we believe this review is both critical and timely for researchers and practitioners. This systematic review broadens the extant literature in both theoretical and practical ways in an effort to help lay a foundation for the organizational scholarship of employees with mental illness, a group that has traditionally been underrepresented in the management and industrial-organizational psychology literatures. After defining and conceptualizing mental illness as a social identity, we systematically review the existing empirical research on employees with mental illness across multiple fields of study. Using research that accounts for individual, other, and organizational perspectives, we present a model that outlines the performance, employment, career, and discriminatory outcomes that characterize the experiences of individuals with mental illness as well as individual and organizational strategies that moderate the relationship between having a mental illness and experiencing those outcomes. Together, this article provides a synthesis of what is known about employees with mental illness while also highlighting avenues for future scholarly attention.

Read the article for free until the end of April.

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