Attitudes of Polish employers toward hiring mentally ill people
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Psychiatr Pol 2011;45(1):45–60
Aim. The purpose of the study was to learn about the opinions of employers from small and medium sized enterprises regarding hiring mentally ill people and to identify barriers hindering such employment. Method. The study was carried out by the Public Opinion Research Center in 2007 on an all-Poland representative sample of 503 employers. A questionnaire entitled Employers' opinions on hiring mentally ill people was used to gather data. Results. Few employers (6.8%) had ever cooperated with mentally ill persons, even fewer (4.4%) had had some experience in hiring such people. As much as 48% of the employers were of the opinion that only 10% of the people who had suffered from mental illness are capable of keeping a paid job. Almost 60% would refer an employee to a medical professional having found out about his/her mental illness, 24.5% would discontinue the hiring process and one in ten would dismiss such a person. 92% of the employers expressed the need for additional information, 78% expected assistance in the very process of hiring and 2.8% had taken advantage of renumeration reimbursement. Three groups of barriers have been identified and described: 1) conception of a mentally ill person as an employee, 2) belief about drastic limitations in functioning resulting from mental illness, 3) lack of knowledge and experience of working with mentally ill people. The most significant barrier is the belief in lack of self-dependence of a mentally ill person, which effectively shuts the door to a career. Conclusions. 1. The results show widespread stereotypes and prejudices against the mentally ill. 2. Employers look for assistance in finding information about mental illnesses and in the hiring process. 3. Educational campaigns should be developed to promote good practices in hiring mentally ill people.