Attitudes toward hiring applicants with mental illness and criminal justice involvement: The impact of education and experience
Ashley B. Batastini, Angelea D. Bolanos, Robert D. Morgan
International Journal of Law and Psychiatry
13 March 2014
Individuals with mental health diagnoses, as well as those involved in the criminal justice system, experience a number of barriers in the recovery and reintegration progress, including access to stable, prosocial employment opportunities. Employment for these populations is important for establishing financial security, reducing unstructured leisure time, increasing self-worth, and improving interpersonal skills. However, research has demonstrated that individuals with psychiatric and/or criminal backgrounds may experience stigmatizing attitudes from employers that impede their ability to find adequate work. This study aimed to evaluate stigmatizing beliefs toward hypothetical applicants who indicated a mental health history, a criminal history, or both, as well as the effectiveness of psychoeducation in reducing stigma. Participants consisted of 465 individuals recruited from a large university who completed a series of online questions about a given applicant. Results of this study varied somewhat across measures of employability, but were largely consistent with extant research suggesting that mental illness and criminal justice involvement serve as deterrents when making hiring decisions. Overall, psychoeducation appeared to reduce stigma for hiring decisions when the applicant presented with a criminal history. Unfortunately, similar findings were not revealed when applicants presented with a psychiatric or a psychiatric and criminal history. Implications and limitations of these findings are presented, along with suggestions for future research.