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‘Honesty training’ helps people with mental illness find a job faster & More Latest News Here


An employment agency from the UWV talks to a woman who was fired from an offshore company a month ago after 7 years of service.Statue Guus Dubbelman / de Volkskrant

This is more important than ever in times of staff shortages, says Kim Janssens, who will be awarded his doctorate at Tilburg University on Friday. She organized an experiment with more than 150 job seekers on welfare. Half of them received a brochure that encourages them to think about whether or not they are open, with tips such as: ‘Your employer does not need to know everything about you, it is normal for some things to be private’. In addition, the reintegration counselors of this group received a so-called ‘stigma awareness training’, in which someone with personal experiences makes them more aware of prejudices about employees with mental illness. The researchers did nothing in the control group.

Result: those who were made to think about the ‘openness dilemma’ alone found work twice as often and managed to keep that job twice as often. Remarkable, according to Janssens, because people on welfare with (former) mental problems are often labeled as ‘people at a distance from the labor market’. ‘This research shows that the problem is not with people themselves, but to a large extent with employers.’

This was also apparent from earlier research by Janssens. In it, most managers indicated that they do not quickly hire an applicant if they know that he or she has psychological problems. A third even preferred not to hire employees who used to suffer from mental problems.

Prejudice can play a role in job search

According to Janssens, a large majority of the Dutch would like to be open about it. This creates a field of tension during job applications. After the study, Janssens spoke to the participants. One of them said she was now made aware of the fact that there is a choice. “She thought openness was the norm.”

The aim of the study was to make people with psychological problems realize that certain prejudices can play a role during the search for work, according to Janssens. The intervention – information leaflets and three two-hour training sessions for reintegration counselors – is relatively cheap. “This is an affordable option to help these job seekers find a job.”

Angelique de Rijk, professor at Maastricht University and not involved in the study, reacts positively. ‘It is impressive that you can achieve such great results with such a small intervention. There is certainly a demand in practice for this type of training and decision aids.’

However, the professor of social medicine also has reservations. The brochure requires a certain level of reading skills. ‘A film could appeal to a larger group.’ Moreover, some of the people who found work after the intervention still needed social assistance as a supplement. ‘Working does not always pay off, this is important to include in follow-up research.’

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The Article Is In Dutch🡽

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