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Decent Work

Finding Inspiration in Every Turn

Individuals with mental health challenges have a right to decent work. In the absence of the aspirational idea of decent work, individuals with mental health challenges may be stuck in a cycle of impoverishment, underemployment, and unemployment.


The International Labor Organization (ILO) defines decent work as that which is “productive and delivers a fair income; provides security in the workplace and social protection for workers and their families; offers prospects for personal development and encourages social integration; gives people the freedom to express their concerns, to organize and to participate in decisions that affect their lives; and guarantees equal opportunities and equal treatment for all” (United Nations, 2015). In the U.S., the concept of decent work has been incorporated into a vocational psychology model called the Psychology of Working (Blustein, 2013).

We adopted the global concept from the Psychology of Working Framework and believe that decent work needs to be adapted for people with mental health challenges. The characteristics of decent work are described here.   

  • Provides fair and livable income 

  • Physically and psychologically safe working conditions 

  • Opportunities for autonomy and growth 

  • Access to quality healthcare 

  • Access to stable and secure jobs 

  • Equal opportunities for diverse individuals with mental health challenges 

  • Hours allotted for free time and rest  

  • Organizational values that are compatible with social and family values  

  • Respectful and inclusive work environments 

  • Employers who aware and understanding of needs of individuals mental health challenges 

  • Collaborative relationships with colleagues and coworkers 

  • Built in flexible work schedules to accommodate mental health needs

  • Training opportunities for the development of  professional competencies


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