Mental illness is associated with a high unemployment rate. To counter this problem, there are both public-sector and third-sector organization programs explicitly aiming at the improvement in the chances of employment for individuals with mental illness. These programs are of two different types: supported employment and prevocational training (Crowther et al. 2001; 2010). Whereas supported employment places clients in competitive jobs without extended preparation, prevocational training involves a period of preparation (e.g., sheltered workshops, transitional employment, or skills training) before entering into competitive employment. The Clubhouse-created Transitional Employment Program (Raeburn et al. 2015), which this project targets at, is one of the organization providing vocational services.
The Transitional Employment Program – like any other program involving human agents – takes ultimately place in social interactions between people. Transitional workplaces are created in interactions between the representatives of the Clubhouse organization and those of the Employer, while the mental health rehabilitants need to interact with the Clubhouse staff and other members to enter the program. At the workplace, then, the members needs to communicate with their employers and get acquainted with their new colleagues. Our aim is to come to a thorough understanding of these critical interactions along the way of the mental health rehabilitant to employment, so as to find out how such processes could be facilitated.
Joint decision making provides the basis for democratic participation within the whole society. During the last decades its role has also become increasingly central in various contexts, such as working life and health care. Joint decision-making is challenging in that it requires that a person has both the capacity to exercise control over the agenda of interaction and the ability to respond flexibly to others’ analogous attempts. Individuals with mental illness may experience specific problems that constitute a barrier towards genuinely joint decision making (Beitinger et al. 2014; Stovell et al. 2016).
In this project, we will collect naturally occurring interaction data to consider how problems of mental health become manifest in the turn-by-turn unfolding of joint decision-making interaction. While there is much knowledge about the deficits in the individual decision-making capacities in individuals with mental illness (Ernst & Paulus 2005; Larquet et al. 2010), the project broadens the view by investigating real-life encounters where decisions are established together with others. Our ultimate aim is to yield new knowledge on how to enhance the possibilities of genuine participation in joint decision-making for persons with mental illness.