Methods: Study participants were recruited through the behavioral health outpatient clinics of a Detroit-based health system. Participants consisted of patients diagnosed with mood and/or anxiety disorders, and clinicians working with individuals with mood and/or anxiety disorders. This qualitative study sought to explore: (a) clinician and patient perceptions of the employment challenges patients encounter in the workplace as a result of mood and anxiety disorders; (b) perceptions around patients’ disclosing their conditions in the workplace; and (c) to understand the specific strategies patients use to manage their conditions in the workplace. Interviews were conducted with 11 clinicians and 6 patients. An in-depth, inductive analytic approach involving constant comparison of emerging themes was used to analyze the data and generate meaning from the participants’ perspective.
Results: Three themes and their sub-themes that emerged from analysis of clinician transcripts include impact of symptoms on work functioning (e.g., productivity, getting to work/missing work, interpersonal difficulties), stigma and disclosure in the workplace (e.g., concerns about disclosure, stigma following disclosure), and strategies used to manage symptoms in the workplace (e.g., CBT, DBT, mindfulness). Similarly, two themes and their sub-themes that emerged from analysis of patient transcripts include impact of symptoms on work functioning (e.g., productivity, getting to work/missing work) and sigma and disclosure in the workplace (e.g., concerns about disclosure, stigma following disclosure).
Conclusions and Implications: Overall, our findings help to illuminate that employed individuals with mood and anxiety disorders experience a vast array of challenges in the workplace as a result of their symptoms and that stigma still exists among coworkers and supervisors. Our work provides support for the development or adaptation of interventions to improve work outcomes for individuals with mental health concerns and reduce the impact of productivity loss for employers. In addition, these results could also inform educational interventions for employers, supervisors, and coworkers.