What is it about?

A person with a psychiatric history shares her experience of finding and sustaining employment in the aftermath of a mental health episode. Chan Li Shan speaks of what it means to grapple with severe mental illness in a society where a person's worth is defined by their economic productivity.

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Why is it important?

Many people diagnosed with severe mental illness find it challenging to return to work and to find and sustain employment. This article provides an example of how this can be achieved, but noting that such stories need not be representative of all stories, and that it is important to work towards greater diversity and inclusion of stories that may not echo the dominant narrative. The publication of this article in Psychiatric Services, a journal of the American Psychiatric Association, speaks to the rising acknowledgement that the lived experience of persons with psychiatrist histories are more than anecdotal accounts, and that they should be recognised for their potential contribution to knowledge and are to be taken seriously.


It's been almost a decade since Jeffrey Geller invited me to make this contribution, and this article was first published. I believe even more, that persons with psychiatric histories should talk to each other, and also to mental healthcare providers to understand their perspectives. And that we need to more delve more deeply into historical perspectives to connect the past with the present, for healing, hope, and clarity.

Lishan Chan
University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: On the Employment of Persons With Mental Health Issues, Psychiatric Services, August 2015, American Psychiatric Association,
DOI: 10.1176/appi.ps.660801.
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