“I Had My Way of Doing Things and It Worked for Me”: Lived Employment Experiences of Adults with Psychiatric Disabilities

Osaretin Uhunoma 1, Junghwan Kim 1 * , Joann S. Olson 2, Doo H. Lim 1

AM J QUALITATIVE RES, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp. 1-18

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Adults with psychiatric disabilities have a higher rate of unemployment and underemployment and have often suffered some form of job discrimination and poor employment accommodations due to the nature of their disabilities. However, there are few empirical investigations related to how these individuals undertake and/or perceive their employment experiences and the meaning of those experiences. This study aims to explore the lived experiences of adults with psychiatric disabilities who have received their employment-related postsecondary training in a southwestern city of the United States. Using a transcendental phenomenological approach, semi-structured interviews for were conducted with six participants; each participant was interviewed twice. Based on the data analysis, six core themes emerged: subtle discrimination, work and familial support, disability awareness, accommodation, fear of embarrassment / strength limitation, and disclosure/self-advocacy. These findings advance the understanding of the core requirements and relevant accommodations needed for adults with psychiatric disabilities to help them gain and retain employment in a competitive labor market. Based on these findings, we conclude this article with a discussion of practical implications and suggestions for future research.

Keywords: Adults with Psychiatric Disabilities, Employment Experience, Transcendental Phenomenology