Employer and employment agency attitudes towards employing individuals with mental health needs

J Ment Health. 2010 Dec;19(6):505-16. doi: 10.3109/09638237.2010.507683. Epub 2010 Sep 28.


Background: The positive benefits of paid employment for individuals with mental health needs are well known yet many still remain unemployed (Perkins & Rinaldi, (2002). Unemployment rates among patients with long-term mental health problems: A decade of rising unemployment. Psychiatric Bulletin, 26(8), 295-298.).

Aims: Attitudes of employers and employment agencies that may provide short-term contracts to individuals with mental health needs are important to understand if these individuals are to be given access to paid employment.

Methods: A mixed methods approach was used to investigate this phenomenon comprising of interviews and a follow-up survey. Interviews were conducted with 10 employment agencies and 10 employers. The results of these interviews then informed a follow-up survey of 200 businesses in Gloucestershire.

Results: The findings demonstrated that employment agencies would consider putting forward individuals with previous mental health needs to employers. However, employers had a high level of concern around employing these individuals. Employers reported issues of trust, needing supervision, inability to use initiative and inability to deal with the public for individuals with either existing or previous mental health needs.

Conclusions: The findings of this research suggest a need for employers to have more accurate information regarding hiring individuals with mental health needs.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Employment, Supported / methods
  • Employment, Supported / psychology*
  • Employment, Supported / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Middle Aged
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United Kingdom