Literature review (800 words) on a topic of your choice, and reflective summary of literature search process (200 words)


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Context of previous studies and literature. 2

Relevance and importance of this topic. 2

Methodologies and Methods. 2

Benefits and limitations of particular approaches or dominant approaches. 3

Reflective summary. 6

Theories of social work. 6

Keywords used. 7

References. 7

Stuart, H, 2006, ‘Mental Illness and Employment Discrimination’ Current Opinion in Psychiatry, Vol 19, No. 5, pp. 522-526. 8

Databases searched. 8

Topic: Employer attitudes towards prospective employees who have a mental illness

Context of previous studies and literature

Many efforts have been made by in the last two decades, by different bodies, to deal with the problem of employers’ attitudes towards prospective employees who suffer from different mental illness illnesses. Jacoby (2005, p. 1981) notes that there is much literature that describes this issue. People with mental problems that last for a long time need special attention in efforts to re-integrate them into the society. One of the main societal areas where they need to be integrated is the workplace.

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Relevance and importance of this topic

This topic is deals with an issue of utmost social significance by handling employment-related concerns for people with mental disability. AsTsang (2007, p. 726) notes that there is scanty literature on the views that employers hold towards mentally ill people. Specifically, there is scarcity of literature that comes from the U.K and the North American region.This research is an attempt to invoke interest in this area so that more social work researchers focus their attention on the needs of disabled people in the workplace. In a study that was done in 2006 on public opinion on disability, only 55% of the people who were questioned said that people who have mental disabilities should be given the same employment opportunities just like the general population. The same research showed that 81% thought that it was important to give all people equal employment opportunities. Additionally, 30% of all the respondents were of the opinion that mentally ill people should not be given equal employment opportunities like the rest of the population.

Methodologies and Methods

One of the most commonly used research methodology involves use of quantitative research, meaning that a very objective approach is adopted. A good example of this methodology is what Allen & Carlson, (2003, p. 21) report: a U.K. survey that was meant to assess the employment implications of attitudinal stereotyping. In this quantitative study, it was found out that four out of ten employers said that they would employ a mentally ill person. The same fraction of employers said that mentally ill employees were twice as likely to lose a job compared to their mentally fit counterparts.

Benefits and limitations of particular approaches or dominant approaches

Quantitative researches focus on static laws while qualitative methods focus on explanation of dynamic realities. In the context of this research, each approach has its benefits and drawbacks. Quantitative research helps the researcher to understand the applicability of laws at a certain point in time. The main limitation with this approach is lack of predictability of future changes that may have taken place. This limitation is the main focus of qualitative methods, which, on the other hand, suffers from the handicap of giving an accurate picture of things as they are in a specific workplace setting.

In a different study that was done on 55 local U.K employers who were employing a workforce ranging between 10 and 10,000 people, it was found out that half of all the employers expressed reservations about any giving a job to a person with schizophrenia. Yet these same employers strongly believed that they were offering all people an equal employment opportunity. In this regard, some employers seemed more willing to give support to mentally ill people who were suffering from, for instance alcoholism compared to those who were suffering from depression.

Brand (1976, p. 56) observes that uptake of supportive schemes that support employment for people with mental disability seems to be a very critical issue of policy framework failure all over the world.Bricout & Bentley  (2000, p. 91) gives the example of a UK study where human resource managers discovered that while majority of employers were very much aware of legislations relating to equal opportunities, they made little or no use of schemes that are designed to give them support in the employment process.

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Marrone (1998, p. 41) report that in a U.S study involving employer compliance with ADA (The Americans With Disabilities Act) (1990) provisions, it was found out that majority of employers felt that it was not their responsibility togive employment to people who have mental problems. Rather, they thought that the existing rehabilitation services should be such that they lead to increase in employment opportunities among these people, although they insisted that rehabilitation facilities should be designed according to a particular mental illness.

The most obvious mechanism that employers used to detect occupational impairment is to screen prospective employees. However, screening is outlawed in certain countries. In the USA, theAmericans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits screening. In the UK, the act is allowed.  Some employers make use of screening outcomes in order to determine the attitudes that they are going to develop towards different employees in the future.

Glazier (2002, p. 716) says that screening is not only an irrational practice, it is inaccurate. For instance, it is difficult to detect alcoholism in prospective employees since they may stop drinking within a short duration preceding the screening process.  A screening procedure for mental illness due to alcoholism requires predetermination of limitations of the screening instrument and how different relative performance standards are established and comparisons made.

In the case of schizophrenia, Rabkin (1974, p. 31) notes that employers’ attitudes towards mentally ill patients are shaped by the intended occupational outcomes and the professional abilities of schizophrenia patients, especially those in their first episode of their illness. Naturalistic studies of people suffering from schizophrenia indicate that any schizophrenia symptoms can easily cause an employer to deny the patient an employment opportunity.

Work is a major determinant of the extent to which mentally ill patients are integrated into the society. Exclusion from the workforce means material deprivation, erosion of self-confidence, creation of a sense of isolation and marginalization. It is also a key risk factor for exacerbation of a mental condition. This is why many literature reviewers on this topic tend to approach the issue in as holistic a manner as possible. It is against this backdrop that stigma by employers has been singled out as a proximate as well as a distal cause of the existing employment inequity.

Hernandez (2000, p. 116) notes that in most cases, discrimination from employers originates from prejudicial attitudes that are historically perpetuated at the workplace as far as different mental illnesses are concerned. On his part, Stuart (2006, p. 524)  argues that structural disincentives on issues of policies relating to mentally ill prospective employees exist mainly because of the existing mental health rehabilitation models as well as legislative philosophies, all of which are largely based on full social participation rather than the ability to complete certain specific work-related tasks.  This is one of the reason why Hernandez (2000, p. 140) arrives at the conclusion that there are many attitudinal and structural barriers that inhibit mentally ill people from remaining as active participants in the labor market. As far as quantitative researches are concerned, policy failures on the issue fulfillment of the needs of mentally ill patients are a common sight in for employers all over the world.

Reflective summary

The literature search process was challenging in areas relating to comparisons of research works by different authors. However, it was easy to access different published and journals. Sometimes, when I did not seem to be finding what I was looking, a feeling of helplessness was engulfing me and then I would instinctively shrug it off. When I found the information I was looking for, I felt like I was already through with the most part of the research process.

After failing to find a certain bit of information, I consulted the course outline for clues on how to access the best databases that document pushed journals on attitudes of employers towards prospective employees who are mentally ill. After this, all I needed to do was to go back to the library and resume with the article search work. Upon finding the specific articles that I had been looking for, the first thing was to look for the main idea expressed and to note it down somewhere. What followed was the usual research process. For this reason, a literature search is a very important part of research study since it highlights all the gaps that exist in researches relating to various topics.

Theories of social work

Psychodynamic bring into perspective various approaches to the study of employer attitudes towards mentally disabled people by addressing the underlying psychological forces that often underlie the behavior of all human beings. On the other hand, cognitive-behavioral theories have a wider base of application and therefore it may not be prudent to use all its aspects in a research like this one. In this regard, one of the best regard to use in all its aspects is Empowerment and Advocacy approaches, which emphasizes the need to give mentally disabled opportunities for empowerment on the workplace. The law and order approach would be equally relevant for this study topic.

Keywords used

Mental illness, schizophrenia, quantitative researches, employer attitudes, mental disabilities,


Allen, S, & Carlson, G, 2003, ‘To conceal or disclose a disabling condition? A dilemma of employment transition’ Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, Vol. 19, No. 1. 19-30.

Brand, R, Claiborn, W. &Claiborn, W.1976,Two studies of comparative stigma: Employer attitudes and practices toward rehabilitated convicts, mental and tuberculosis patients’, Community Mental Health Journal , Vol. 12, No. 2  pp. 55-95.

Bricout, J, & Bentley, K,   2000, ‘Disability status and perceptions of employability by employers’ Social Work Research, Vol. 24, No. 2, pp. 87-95.

Glazier, N, 2002, ‘Mental Ill Health and Fitness For Work’ Occupational Environmental Medicine, Vol. 59, No. 3, pp. 714-720.

Hernandez, B, 2000, ‘Employer Attitudes toward Workers with Disabilities and Their ADA Employment Rights: A Literature Review’, The Journal of Rehabilitation, Vol. 66, No. 1, pp. 105-140.

Jacoby, A, 2005, ‘Employers’ attitudes to employment of people with epilepsy: still the same old story?Epilepsia Vol.  46, No. 12, pp. 1978-1987.

Marrone, J, 1998, ‘Just Doing It: Helping People with Mental Illness Get Good Jobs’ Journal of Applied Rehabilitation Counseling, Vol. 29, No. 1, pp. 37-48.

Stuart, H, 2006, ‘Mental Illness and Employment Discrimination’ Current Opinion in Psychiatry, Vol 19, No. 5, pp. 522-526.

Tsang, H, 2007,‘A cross-cultural study of employers’ concerns about hiring people with psychotic disorder: implications for recovery’, Journal of Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, Vol. 42, No. 9, pp. 723-733.

Rabkin, J, 1974, ‘Public attitudes toward mental illness: A review of the literature’.

Schizophrenia Bulletin’ Vol. 1, No. 10, pp. 9-33.

Databases searched

  1. spinger Netherlands
  2. ingenta connect
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