Mental illness is a major challenge in western societies. It is costly in terms of both human suffering and also constitutes a burden on economy. Individuals with a history of mental illness have a lower likelihood of getting employment relative to the rest of the population and also otherwise risk becoming marginalized in society.

In our research, we study interactions, where one or more participants has a mental health problem, targeting the issue of social inclusion. More specifically, we examine the experiences of empowerment in interaction, participation in joint decision-making, and social obstacles in the way to employment for individuals with mental health problems.

Our research data consist of video recorded interactions and interviews from a non-governmental organization. In the analysis of our data, we combine qualitative and quantitative approaches. Mental health service users have an important role in the design and conduct of the project.

The insights gained from our research may be applied in the field of mental health psychosocial rehabilitation and in the design of programs to enhance the chances of employment and social inclusion for partially able-bodied individuals.

Our research is funded by the Academy of Finland (1.9.2017–31.8.2021; project: Interaction, social inclucion, and mental illness, PI:  Camilla Lindholm) and the University of Helsinki (1.1.2018–31.12.2020; project: Participation, joint decision making and social interaction deficits, PI: Melisa Stevanovic).