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An Integrative Review of the Barriers to Job Acquisition for People With Severe Mental Illnesses

Charette-Dussault, Élyse MEd*; Corbière, Marc PhD†‡

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: July 2019 - Volume 207 - Issue 7 - p 523–537
doi: 10.1097/NMD.0000000000001013
Review Article

This integrative review analyses and synthesizes specialized literature of 20 years up to 2017 studying barriers/obstacles to employment for people with severe mental illnesses. The inclusion and exclusion criteria led to 35 experimental and nonexperimental studies. Results of the prospective studies were analyzed with the evidence synthesis method to isolate the most salient obstacles. Six main themes emerged from the findings, grouped into personal and environmental barriers. Environmental barriers were related to disability benefits and other physical resources, to stigma and social support, and to vocational services. Individual barriers included those related to illness, to work experience and skills, and to self-perception, fears, and motivation. The most prominent obstacles are lack of work experience and lack of use of effective strategies toward employment. Systematically identifying barriers to employment for people with severe mental illnesses will enable employment specialists to better support their clients in overcoming them, thus facilitating their work integration.

*Department of Psychology, and

Department of Education and Pedagogy–Career Counseling, Université du Québec à Montréal; and

Centre de recherche de l'Institut Universitaire en santé mentale de Montréal, Montréal, Quebec, Canada.

Send reprint requests to Élyse Charette-Dussault, MEd, Department of Psychology, Université du Québec à Montréal, 100, Sherbrooke West Street, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H2X 3P2. E-mail:

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