Career Pathways Framework (CPF) Assumptions

CPF is grounded in six intersecting assumptions regarding individuals with psychiatric disabilities.

Career Advancement relies on favorable social environments 

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It is not enough for individuals with mental health challenges to work on improving their career competencies. Career advancement relies on supportive and helpful social environments for individuals to progress in their careers. Social environments include family, friends, colleagues, bosses and managers, mental health providers, employment support providers, etc. without whom career pathways can be isolating and challenging. Ideal social environments support decent work attainment by creating opportunities for social learning, personal connections, instrumental support, and protections against marginalization. 

Career Development is Possible

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Many people who live with mental health challenges do not believe career development is possible even after they have had careers or have shifted career paths. Career competencies do not disappear. They can and do evolve. Even after career disruptions, competencies such as problem-solving, leadership skills, effective communication, networking, etc. can be rebuilt, enabling individuals living with mental health challenges to engage in the process of career advancement (Gioia, 2005; Savickas, 2002) 

Decent Work is a Target Outcome

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Decent work is a necessary and important outcome. Meaningful work and work satisfaction are influential for one's health and community integration. Minimal wage jobs and precarious work conditions do not provide individuals with mental health challenges opportunities out of poverty. They also do not allow for labor market protections that are typically available to individuals with disabilities and foster reliance on services. Pathways out of poverty need to be characterized by fair and livable income, safe working conditions, security in the workplace, opportunities for growth, access to healthcare, quality jobs, and equal opportunities and treatment of individuals. 

Marginalization is an Interconnected Process

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Individuals with mental health challenges experience various forms of marginalization within the context of larger societal systems and structures. These structures do not value mental well-being. For example, toxic work cultures are often disrespectful, non-inclusive, and even abusive.  These structures restrict access to decent work.  The marginalization experience of mental illness (e.g., stigma, ableism) align with those associated with minority identities (e.g., racism, transphobia, ageism) prompting the need for an identity-first model where the identity of someone living with mental health challenges  is recognized as one among other intersecting social identities that contribute to marginalization.  

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Mediating Environments

Ideal social environments mediate decent work attainment through opportunities of social learning, personal connections, instrumental support, and protections against marginalization.