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Surviving and thriving in work with mental health conditions – refocusing counselling psychology?

Ferris, Helen (2014). Surviving and thriving in work with mental health conditions – refocusing counselling psychology?. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City University London)


Background and Aim
Mental health costs UK businesses billions of pounds each year through high levels of absence and presenteeism. Despite improved interventions around enabling people with mental health conditions back into and remaining in work through Supported Employment, the figures around retention are discouraging. People with mental health conditions see employment as a sign of recovery and clinicians also support returning to work as an important step in development. Research has largely focused on trying to improve the employment rates of people with mental health conditions who have already accessed mental health services. However, there are many people in employment who are struggling with poor mental health who have chosen not to disclose to their employer about their condition, leading to issues around presenteeism. This study therefore focuses on developing psychological interventions for people struggling in work, who may not access Supported Employment services.

Four participants took part in a collaborative action research process over four group sessions. Participants were co-researchers in the process, where the group worked to identify and test out interventions that might improve managing mental health conditions at work. The transcripts were then analysed using constructivist grounded theory to develop an overarching model.

The model proposed highlights the role of the individual and the organisation in improving the management of mental health conditions at work, facilitated by the line management relationship. The model suggests that individuals could improve their own mental health by developing their self-awareness, work-life balance, mindfulness practice and aligning job choice with personal values. The organisation could further work on establishing a culture and physical environment centred on well-being to support individuals through line management relationships.

Counselling Psychologists could play an important role in developing interventions around retention and also champion piloting mental health support groups in work to enable sustained change.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses > School of Arts and Social Sciences Doctoral Theses
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