What is it about?

In this study, we interview 24 Black adults with serious mental illness to better understand their experiences of prejudice and discrimination in the workplace. Other studies of this kind tend to focus on one characteristic that may be the target of prejudice and discrimination in the workplace (e.g., race or mental illness). We asked questions about workplace experiences where multiple characteristics were identified as causing disadvantage during the same incident. Black adults with serious mental illness reported 19 types of prejudice and discrimination in the workplace, including unfair treatment because of their race, histories of mental illness, gender, weight, and criminal history. Importantly, participants also shared instances of prejudice and discrimination where two or more of their characteristics were targeted at the same time. We found that race and gender were, most often, reported to be targeted together. Race was the most consistent feature in almost all experiences of workplace prejudice and discrimination among Black adults with serious mental illness.

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Why is it important?

Experiences of workplace prejudice and discrimination are known to cause immense psychological harm and decrease opportunities for success in the workplace. Attending to the experiences of groups that are already quite vulnerable in the workplace (ethnic minorities and individuals with serious mental illness) is an important next step.

Perspectives

I think our study highlights the complexity of experienced prejudice and discrimination. For individuals with several marginalized identities, there is a real potential for multiple layers of disfavor and disadvantage that requires more focus in research and practice.

Oyenike Balogun-Mwangi
Salve Regina University

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This page is a summary of: “We don’t get a chance to prove who we really are”: A qualitative inquiry of workplace prejudice and discrimination among Black adults with serious mental illness., Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, June 2022, American Psychological Association (APA), DOI: 10.1037/prj0000527.
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