The thesis explores the interrelationship between career guidance, mental health, and well-being: an area neglected by the career guidance community in the UK. This topic is explored against a background of growing interest in the connections between work, worklessness and health. As a result of the global economic downturn the need to identify effective interventions to ameliorate the effects of unemployment is now pressing.
Multiple theoretical perspectives were applied to generate possible causal mechanisms by which career guidance interventions might impact on mental health. The empirical literature was explored for evidence linking career guidance to well-being. It emerges there is a shortage of evidence that directly addresses the issue, but a plethora of evidence is available if the search is widened to include the relations between well-being and work (or substitute activities such as education or volunteering), variables related to well-being, and also to include other vocational interventions, such as training and rehabilitation.
New data were generated using a mixed-method approach, underpinned by a critical realist philosophy. The sample population was unemployed adults recovering from mental health conditions, the service users of a specialist employment support agency in Scotland. This group throws the themes of the thesis into sharp focus, as they are on the cusp between work and worklessness, health and illness.
Quantitative evidence from pre, post and follow up measures suggested that participants’ well-being improved in the period during which they were engaged with the service. Levels of anxiety and depression followed the same pattern of improvement. Causality cannot be determined as there was no control group and attrition was high.
Qualitative data from research interviews generated confirmatory evidence that well-being had improved while engaged with the service. Participants clearly
attributed causality to the guidance service. Partial deterioration when interventions were completed was also evident.
Three key themes emerge from the analysis:
1. Career guidance may have a direct impact on well-being via mechanisms analogous to therapeutic counselling.
2. Career guidance may impact indirectly on well-being by promoting engagement in work or learning.
3. If these effects can scale up to a population level, then the potential exists for career guidance to be a social intervention with public health implications.
Robertson, P. J. The impact of career guidance on well-being outcomes. (Thesis). Edinburgh Napier University. Retrieved from http://researchrepository.napier.ac.uk/id/eprint/6133