Mental Illness Stigma and the Fundamental Components of Supported Employment


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Abstract

Purpose/ObjectiveThe success of supported employment programs will partly depend on the endorsement of stigma in communities in which the programs operate. In this article, the authors examine 2 models of stigma—responsibility attribution and dangerousness—and their relationships to components of supported employment—help getting a job and help keeping a job.Research Method/DesignA stratified and randomly recruited sample (N = 815) completed responses to a vignette about “Chris,” a person alternately described with mental illness, with drug addiction, or in a wheelchair. Research participants completed items that represented responsibility and dangerousness models. They also completed items representing 2 fundamental aspects of supported employment: help getting a job or help keeping a job.ResultsWhen participants viewed Chris as responsible for his condition (e.g., mental illness), they reacted to him in an angry manner, which in turn led to lesser endorsement of the 2 aspects of supported employment. In addition, people who viewed Chris as dangerous feared him and wanted to stay away from him, even in settings where people with mental illness might work.Conclusions/ImplicationsImplications for understanding supported employment are discussed.

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