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Professionals and Managers With Severe Mental Illnesses: Findings From a National Survey

Ellison, Marsha Langer PhD*; Russinova, Zlatka PhD; Lyass, Asya PhD (Cand.); Rogers, E Sally ScD

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: March 2008 - Volume 196 - Issue 3 - p 179-189
doi: 10.1097/NMD.0b013e318166303c
Original Article

This study explores the capacity of individuals with severe mental illness to be employed in managerial or professional jobs and the correlates of their vocational success. Using purposive sampling techniques, we identified a national sample of 347 individuals for a mail survey who had succeeded in obtaining and retaining mid to upper level managerial or professional positions. The majority worked full-time and held their job for more than 2 years. Their vocational success was operationalized based on 4 employment outcomes: employment status (full-time vs. part-time), job tenure, occupational rank, and annual income. Key factors that contributed to respondents’ vocational success were lesser severity of the illness as indicated by lack of lifetime receipt of disability benefits, capacity to manage one's own psychiatric condition, and higher education. Study findings point to the role of supported education and self-efficacy in promoting the employment outcomes among individuals with severe mental illnesses.

*Center for Health Policy and Research, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Shrewsbury, Massachusetts; and †Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation, Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts.

Supported by a grant (H133B40024) from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), US Department of Education and the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

The findings and interpretation of the data expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of NIDRR or the CMHS but are the sole responsibility of the authors.

Send reprint requests to E. Sally Rogers, ScD, Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation, Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Boston University, 940 Commonwealth Avenue West, Boston, MA 02215. E-mail:

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.