When Health Care Workers Experience Mental Ill Health
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Based on findings from an institutional ethnography in a large mental health organization, we explore how institutional forces shape the experiences of health care workers with mental health issues. We interviewed 20 employees about their personal experiences with mental health issues and work and 12 workplace stakeholders about their interactions with workers who had mental health issues. We also reviewed organizational texts related to health, illness, and productivity. In analyzing transcripts and texts, silence emerged as a core underlying process characterizing individual and organizational responses to employees with mental health issues. Silence was an active practice that took many forms; it was pervasive, complex, and at times, paradoxical. It served many functions for workers and the organization. We discuss the theoretical and practical implications of the findings for workers with mental health issues.
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