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Work. 2012;42(4):461-71. doi: 10.3233/WOR-2012-1370.

Supporting workers with mental health problems to retain employment: users' experiences of a UK job retention project.

Author information

  • 1Occupational Therapy Division, School of Health Professions, University of Brighton, Eastbourne, UK. j.cameron@brighton.ac.uk



To understand experiences and perspectives of job retention project users in relation to challenges faced and support received; to develop explanatory insight into effective interventions.


14 employed users of a United Kingdom job retention project, with a range of mental health problems.


Semi-structured individual interviews which were collaboratively designed with service users. Data analysis involved deductive & inductive thematic analysis, constant comparative analysis, and service user collaboration.


Participants' feelings of guilt and self blame were a major obstacle to job retention. The project helped them address these by supporting a reappraisal of their situation. This assisted identification of job accommodations and adjustments and confidence in self advocacy. Thus an important basis for improved dialogue with their employer was established. A peer support group provided an important adjunct to individual project worker interventions. 10 participants retained employment; three of those who did not were helped to retain work aspirations.


The project effectively used a multi-faceted approach involving a person - environment-occupation focus on the worker, their work, and workplace. Such complex interventions may offer more promise than those interventions (such as cognitive behavioural therapy) which have a primary focus on the individual worker.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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