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Work performance and co-workers are source of discrimination in workplace (USA)

January 26, 2012

A national study of individuals with serious mental illness found that work performance and co-workers’ attitudes toward them were two main sources of prejudice and discrimination at work.

The study was based on qualitative data from 234 participants who reported perceiving negative attitudes at work (as part of a larger study on sustained employment) and from a subsequent study on workplace psychiatric prejudice and discrimination, with 202 individuals. Data was collected between July 2006 and March 2007. Individuals in the study were employed for at least 12 out of 24 months in competitive employment and were asked to describe their worst experience of discrimination at work.

The findings revealed that prejudice and discrimination can be identified as direct, indirect, and perceived. Two common practices were patronizing remarks or actions, causing people with a mental illness to work harder to prove themselves. The other practice saw co-workers and supervisors label a bad day as an example of a mental health episode. The study was intended to be used as evidence in building a guideline for social inclusion for employees with mental health conditions.

See, “Workplace Prejudice and Discrimination toward Individuals with Mental Illnesses”, available at

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