Psychiatric Disorders, Functional Impairment, and the Workplace
When psychiatric disorders occur, they can impair the ability to perform job-related tasks. Some individuals may become completely precluded from competitive employment because of mental illness; some, however, are able to work despite severe illness and, at times, episodes of severe impairment. Well-known examples of individuals with severe psychiatric illnesses who have continued to work include John Nash, who suffers from schizophrenia (Nasar, 2001), William Styron, who wrote movingly of his own battles with depression (Styron, 1990), and Kay Redfield Jamison, a preeminent researcher in her own illness, bipolar disorder (Jamison, 1995). Nevertheless, despite such inspiring examples, the effects of many mental conditions are as severe in terms of disability as those of many chronic physical conditions (Merikangas et al., 2007a).