Mental disorders affect employment and the ability to work, and mental healthcare providers are important in the promotion of health and employment for affected individuals. The objective of this study is to explore the perspectives of mental healthcare providers on pathways to improved employment for persons with mental disorders in two lower middle-income countries.
Our study participants included mental healthcare providers (psychiatrists, occupational physicians, psychologists, and social care workers) from Kenya and Nigeria. Qualitative interviews and a focus group discussion were conducted with 15 professionals in Kenya and online questionnaires were completed by 80 professionals from Nigeria.
The study participants suggested that work is important for the recovery and wellbeing of persons with mental disorders. A complex interplay of factors related to the health of persons with mental disorders and the socioeconomic system in their setting were identified as barriers to their work ability and employment. Participants proposed four pathways to improved employment: including information on reducing stigma, better healthcare, policy advocacy in employment, and government commitment to healthcare and social welfare. Public education to reduce stigma and better healthcare were the highest reported facilitators of employment.
Persons with mental disorders require multilevel support and care in obtaining and retaining employment. A better mental healthcare system is essential for the employment of persons with mental disorders.