Individuals with invisible chronic illnesses are often at a disadvantage in the workplace in terms of job security, promotion, and occupational success. Because little is known about the use of public online support forums to help patients with mental health disorders cope with the impact their illness has on their work and career, this research identifies and examines online forum posts related to employment by contributors with bipolar disorder. Seven percent of the total eligible posts from four discussion forums (n = 7,712) contained mentions of work and career (n = 572). A thematic analysis of the 572 posts is reported, organized by characteristics of contributors related to work and career histories, symptoms of bipolar disorder at work, needs for coping at work, the importance of work as part of a healthy life, disclosure of the illness, and recommendations by other contributors. The symptoms associated with the illness can have a negative impact in the work environment. Fear of stigma and other negative consequences inhibit workers from disclosing their condition and negotiating ways to get the fundamental accommodations they need. The posts reveal a climate of fear and uncertainty surrounding mental illness in the workplace, as well as individuals’ desire to conquer their health challenges to achieve meaning and fulfillment in their work life.
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Published in International Journal of Information, Diversity, and Inclusion, Volume 3, Issue 4, 2019, pages 20-44.
© 2019 Susan Rathbun-Grubb. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Rathbun-Grubb, S. (2019). The Lived Experience of Work and Career Among Individuals with Bipolar Disorder: A Phenomenological Study of Discussion Forum Narratives. The International Journal Of Information, Diversity, & Inclusion (IJIDI), 3(4). doi: 10.33137/ijidi.v3i4.33011