Community Mental Health Journal

, Volume 31, Issue 2, pp 163–176

Living with chronic mental illness: Understanding the role of work

  • Teresa Linnea Scheid
  • Cliff Anderson
Clinical Care Update

DOI: 10.1007/BF02188765

Cite this article as:
Scheid, T.L. & Anderson, C. Community Ment Health J (1995) 31: 163. doi:10.1007/BF02188765


This paper is based upon an exploratory study designed to examine the role of work within the lives of those with severe, persistent mental illness (SPMI). Indepth, open ended interviews were conducted with a small number of consumers (n=10) who attend a clubhouse for those with SPMI where emphasis is placed upon preparation for work. Given that little is known about how work impinges upon or enriches the lives of consumers we asked consumers about their experience of mental illness and work throughout their life trajectories. This paper describes these work experiences, the effect of mental illness and treatment compliance upon their ability to work, and the relationship of work to stress. We found that in general some kind of meaningful activity was important to these consumers, but many had found work experiences to be stressful and were cautious about their subsequent abilities to sustain meaningful employment. We suggest that subsequent research needs to examine the nature of the work environment, and that work environments may be usefully distinguished in terms of level of expressed emotion.

Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Teresa Linnea Scheid
    • 1
  • Cliff Anderson
  1. 1.University of North Carolina at CharlotteCharlotte