A Qualitative Analysis of the Importance of Work in the Sustenance of Psychological Health & Well-being.
1University of Westminster
Background: Work is known to be a determinant of positive mental health, particularly for those with a mental health issue. This study explored the significance of paid work to the perceived wellbeing of people with bi-polar disorder & its impact in supporting their illness management. Methods: Semi-structured interviews were carried out with a purposive sample of 6 participants to elicit their experiences of paid employment. Transcripts were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Findings: Seven themes emerged from the analyses which were subsequently conceptualised into three superordinate themes: “a desire to be part of the mainstream”, “being out of the ordinary” and “finding a fit”. Employment was of great value to participants in terms of their mental well-being & they drew on a range of practical and psychological strategies in order to reap the potential benefits of wellness and normality that employment presented. Discussion: Clinicians & employers should view the results as lending support to previous research that has stressed the significant benefits of work for well-being. It contributed to feelings of social inclusion, self-empowerment and wellbeing. Additionally it highlights the relevance of the latest government initiative Public Health Responsibility Deal which urges employers to ensure people with mental health conditions can remain in work.