Conestoga news

June 12, 2017 8:03 AM

Conestoga professor to explore disclosure of mental illness in the workplace

Conestoga professor Dr. Kate Toth has received a grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) for a research study to explore disclosure of mental illness in the workplace. The project has been funded for three years and is valued at more than $330,000.

Dr. Toth joined Conestoga in 2014 as a professor in the Bachelor of Business Administration - International Business Management degree program, teaching courses in the field of human resources to degree and graduate certificate students.

“This research will provide a deeper understanding of the impact of disclosure on job satisfaction and work tenure,” said Toth. “The end goal is new knowledge that will allow organizations to enhance inclusivity, leading to increased job tenure, enhanced recovery and well-being for individuals, and increased productivity and reduced disability claims costs for organizations. We are very grateful to CIHR for the opportunity to conduct this important work.”

The study will seek to understand how individuals make disclosure decisions and how these decisions impact job outcomes such as work accommodations, experiences of stigma and discrimination, work productivity, job satisfaction, and ultimately, job tenure. Toth said job tenure is a significant issue for individuals with a severe mental disorder as successful employment and the economic self-sufficiency it provides are important to recovery and wellness.

Toth also explained that one of the best predictors of job tenure is the implementation of work accommodations; however, accessing accommodations in the workplace requires disclosure of the mental disorder, and fear of stigma may lead employees to not disclose. “Decision-making about disclosure at work is a complex process, as disclosing can have both positive outcomes, like work accommodation, and negative outcomes that include stigma,” said Toth.

The project will specifically explore disclosure to the immediate supervisor, as the supervisor plays a significant role in the implementation of work accommodations and relevant employment outcomes such as job satisfaction and job tenure.

Toth will work with a team of researchers from Ontario and Quebec to conduct this two-province study. Professor Marc Corbière, co-principal investigator on the project, is the Mental Health and Work Research Chair at Centre de Recherche de l'Institut Universitaire en Santé Mentale de Montréal and professor at Université du Québec à Montréal.

Co-researchers include:

  • Dr. Heather Stuart, the Bell Mental Health and Anti-Stigma Research Chair at Queen’s University
  • Dr. Tania Lecomte, professor in the Department of Psychology at Université de Montréal
  • Dr. Bonnie Kirsh, associate professor in the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy at the University of Toronto
  • Dr. Djamal Berbiche, professor in the Department of Medicine at Université de Sherbrooke
  • Dr. Patrizia Villotti, postdoctoral fellow at Centre de Recherche de l’Institut Universitaire en Santé Mentale de Montréal.

Applied research is central to Conestoga’s mandate to provide high-quality polytechnic education. The college provides applied research opportunities for students, faculty, researchers, communities, companies and other post-secondary institutions to develop solutions to real-world problems.

For more information, contact Conestoga's Applied Research & Innovation office.