This thesis presents findings from an exploratory, in-depth qualitative research project that focused upon surfacing and exploring the significant issues at work for people with diagnosed mental health issues, from the perspective of individuals and line managers. There is growing awareness of the number of people in work with mental health issues; an estimated one in six workers (Elliott et al., 2008; McManus et al., 2016) and the organisational costs: an estimated £42 to £45billion per year (Hampson & Jacob, 2020). The current research field of mental health issues at work focuses upon how work can shape individuals’ mental health (Woods et al., 2019) and how work can be important for people to recover from mental health issues (e.g., Llena-Nozal et al., 2009), however, it is incomplete and lacks theoretical and conceptual underpinning (Elraz, 2017; Follmer & Jones, 2018). Little is known about the day-to-day experience of work for people with mental health issues and what shapes and influences that experience. Drawing on semi structured, in-depth interviews with 20 individuals with diagnosed mental health issues and 20 managers, the lived experiences, significant issues and enabling features were explored. Reflexive thematic analysis drawing on the paradox theory with a tension lens resulted in several themes and tensions being identified which were grouped together in three clusters; individual, social/relational, and organisational which are interrelated. Individuals discussed their experience of stigma and discrimination, the importance of the manager and colleagues, and the impact of work design. The managers discussed a people management approach to their managing style, but this was impeded by organisational demands. The biomedical model also influenced the narratives, The thesis contributes to theory by developing a substantive theory of key issues and enabling features for individuals with mental health issues at work and a detailed research agenda.

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Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License.