The “Work” of Workplace Mental Health: An Institutional Ethnography

  • Malachowski C
  • Boydell K
  • Sawchuk P
 et al. 
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Abstract

This article employs institutional ethnography (IE) inclusive of its distinctive epistemological stance to elucidate the institutional organization of the everyday work experience of the employee living with self-reported depression. The study was conducted within a large industrial manufacturing plant in Ontario, Canada. We discuss three institutionally organized processes that play a dominant role in coordinating the experiences of employees with self-reported depression: (1) employees’ work of managing and negotiating episodes of depression, (2) managers’ administrative work of maintaining privacy and confidentiality, and (3) the administrative work of authorizing illness. We shed light on how confidential medicalized disability management programs render managers ill prepared and inadequately trained to provide mental health support to their employees. Our findings inform advocacy efforts and facilitate both organizational and policy change to enhance services and supports for employees.

Author-supplied keywords

  • depression
  • mental health
  • mental health policy
  • work

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