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J Ment Health. 2017 Jun 23:1-8. doi: 10.1080/09638237.2017.1340606. [Epub ahead of print]

Narrative development and supported employment of persons with severe mental illness.

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a University of Montreal , Montreal , QC , Canada.
b University of Sherbrooke , Montreal , QC , Canada , and.
c Roudebush VA Medical Centre, Indiana University School of Medicine , Indianapolis , IN , USA.



While the relationship between objective recovery and work among persons with severe mental illness (SMI) is well-established, few studies have examined the link between subjective recovery and employment.


The study investigated the prospective relationship between narrative development at the start of supported employment (SE) and positive work outcomes.


The authors employed a time-limited, mixed-method longitudinal design to examine the relationship between the baseline narrative development of 38 SE participants with SMI and employment outcomes eight months later, as well as whether narratives evolved over the course of the study.


While narrative development was unrelated to work for the 59% of participants who were employed at the end of the study, unemployed individuals showed more developed baseline narratives overall, as well as enriched baseline emotional connectedness and social worth. Higher emotional connectedness at the start of SE programs was predictive of fewer hours worked eight months later, controlling for executive functioning, negative symptoms and self-esteem. Although workers showed no narrative changes over time, those without work demonstrated increased agency over the eight months of the study.


Further research is warranted to clarify the relationship between richer personal narratives and unemployment.


narratives; psychosis; self-experience; severe mental illness; supported employment

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