Introduction: Work and Mental Illness – A Brief Sociological and Historical Overview

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Psychiatry



Document Type

Book Chapter

Medical Subject Headings

Mentally Ill Persons; Employment


Health Services Research | Mental and Social Health | Psychiatric and Mental Health | Psychiatry | Psychiatry and Psychology


Dr. Fisher is also editor of the book in which this chapter is included: Research on Community-Based Mental Health Services for Children and Adolescents (Research in Community and Mental Health, Volume 13), ISBN 0762311290.

Summary: That opportunities for gainfully employing persons with severe mental illness should be maximized is a position around which there is virtual unanimity. But identifying obstacles to this goal and ways to overcome them is another matter – one that, in different forms, has engaged members of a number of disciplines. In this volume we bring together diverse disciplinary perspectives from psychology, psychiatry, statistics, occupational therapy and psychiatric rehabilitation research, sociology and labor economics to discuss a range of topics related to employment and mental illness. The papers included here span a range of domains, from “person – level” questions of person-environment fit to the broad societal effects of labor markets. Evaluative perspectives on various approaches that the mental health community has taken in seeking to advance the employment of persons with serious mental illness are also examined. While we will not claim to have represented every perspective currently in play in research on employment for persons with mental illness, we feel this volume represents the multi-disciplinary flavor of the small but growing research establishment in this area.

Citation: William H. Fisher (2004), Introduction: Work and Mental Illness – A Brief Sociological and Historical Overview, in William H. Fisher (ed.) Research on Employment for Persons with Severe Mental Illness (Research in Community and Mental Health, Volume 13), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp.1-11. DOI: 10.1016/S0192-0812(04)13008-0.