School of Counseling and Special Education Faculty Publications


The Work Project Survey: Consumer Perspectives on Work

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Objective: Mental health consumers at an urban mental health center were surveyed about their motivations for working and perceived barriers to employment. Design: A survey was developed and administered by a consumer-led research team to 389 persons receiving case management and outpatient services. Results: Most consumers were either working (16%; n=59) or reported a desire to work (46%; n=170). The latter group constituted 55% of the 310 respondents who were not working at the time of the study. The most common perceived barrier was the fear of losing Social Security benefits. Consumers also reported concerns about receiving low pay and being ashamed of their job histories. Among the 38% of the total sample who expressed a reluctance or unwillingness to work, two-thirds (n=58) indicated that, if they did not have to worry about losing their Social Security benefits while working, they would try to obtain employment. A total of 179 (49%) respondents expressed a preference for receiving vocational services at their clinical sites, versus at a clubhouse location. Conclusions: Most consumers in this study were working or wanted to work. Consumers' motivations for work can be increased, especially if key barriers to work are described as removable. Preferences for types and locations of vocational services need to be considered in planning services.

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Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation





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