The study is to investigate psychological self-sufficiency—the force within someone that activates cognitive and non-cognitive process of shifting perceived barriers into hope actions—as it relates to economic self-sufficiency among jobseekers with mental health barriers. Among a sample of 2455 low-income jobseekers in job readiness programs at six community-based agencies in Chicago, a subsample of 424 who self-identified as having mental illness barriers are selected to analyze the relationships between employment hope, employment barriers, and economic self-sufficiency using structural equation modeling. Results indicate that employment hope mediates the path between perceived employment barriers and economic self-sufficiency. The study further highlights the positive effects of employment barriers on employment hope among jobseekers with perceived mental illnesses. The findings support growing evidence that psychological self-sufficiency is positively associated with gaining economic self-sufficiency in workforce development programs.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Anderson, E. K., & Hoy, J. V. (2006). Striving for self-sufficient families: Urban and rural experiences for women in welfare-to-work programs. Journal of Poverty, 10, 69–91.
Anderson, M. A., Brown, E., Cavadel, E. W., Derr, M., & Kauff, J. F. (2018). Using psychology-informed strategies to promote selfsufficiency: A review of innovative programs (OPRE Report #2018-41). Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Beisser, A. (n.d.). The paradoxical theory of change. Retrieved from www.gestalt.org/arnie.htm.
Biegel, D. E., Stevenson, L. D., Beimers, D., Ronis, R. J., & Boyle, P. (2010). Predictors of competitive employment among consumers with co-occurring mental and substance use disorders. Research on Social Work Practice, 20, 191–201.
Benlter, P. M., & Bonett, D. C. (1980). Significance tests and goodness of fit in the analysis of covariance structure. Psychological Bulletin, 88, 588–606.
Benlter, P. M. (1990). Comparative fit indexes in structural models. Psychological Bulletin, 107, 238–246.
Blitz, C. L., & Mechanic, D. (2006). Facilitators and barriers to employment among individuals with psychiatric disabilities: A job coach perspective. Work, 26, 407–419.
Browne, M., & Cudek, R. (1993). Alternate ways of assessing model fit. In K. Bollen & J. Long (Eds.), Testing structural equation models (pp. 136–162). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Cleaveland, C. (2005). A desperate means to dignity: Work refusal amongst Philadelphia welfare recipients. Ethnography, 6, 35–60.
Corbière, M., Zaniboni, S., Lecomte, T., Bond, G., Gilles, P. Y., Lesage, A., et al. (2011). Job acquisition for people with severe mental illness enrolled in supported employment programs: A theoretically grounded empirical study. Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, 21, 342–354.
Cook, J. A., & Razzano, L. (2000). Vocational rehabilitation for persons with schizophrenia: Recent research and implications for practice. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 26, 87–103.
Creed, P. A., & Klisch, J. (2005). Future outlook and financial strain: Testing the personal agency and latent deprivation models of unemployment and well-being. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 10, 251–260.
Danziger, S. K., Ananat, E. O., & Browning, K. G. (2004). Childcare subsidies and the transition from welfare to work. Family Relations, 53, 219–228.
Danziger, S., Corcoran, M., Danziger, S., Heflin, C., Kalil, A., Levine, J., et al. (2000a). Barriers to the employment of welfare recipients. In R. Cherry & W. Rogers (Eds.), Prosperity for all? Economic boom and African Americans (pp. 245–278). New York, NY: Russell Sage Foundation.
Danziger, S., Kalil, A., & Anderson, N. K. (2000b). Human capital, physical health, and mental health of welfare recipients: Co-occurrence and correlates. Journal of Special Issues, 56, 635–654.
Danziger, S. K., & Seefeldt, K. S. (2002). Barriers to employment and the ‘hard to serve’: Implications for services, sanctions, and time limits. Focus, 22, 76–82.
Daugherty, R. H., & Barber, G. M. (2001). Self-sufficiency, ecology of work, and welfare reform. Social Service Review, 75, 662–675.
Dewa, G. S., Loong, D., Trojanowski, L., & Bonato, S. (2018). The effectiveness of augmented versus standard individual placement and support programs in terms of employment: A systematic literature review. Journal of Mental Health, 27, 174–183.
Feather, N. T., & Barber, J. G. (1983). Depressive reactions and unemployment. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 92, 185–195.
Fortin, G., Lecomte, T., & Corbière, M. (2017). Does personality influence job acquisition and tenure in people with severe mental illness enrolled in supported employment programs? Journal of Mental Health, 25, 248–256.
Frijters, P., Johnston, D. W., & Shields, M. A. (2014). The effect of mental health on employment: Evidence from Australian panel data. Health Economics, 23, 1058–1071.
Gowdy, E., & Pearlmutter, S. (1993). Economic self-sufficiency: It’s not just money. Affilia, 8, 368–387.
Heffernan, J., & Pilkington, P. (2011). Supported employment for persons with mental illness: Systematic review of the effectiveness of individual placement and support in the UK. Journal of Mental Health, 20, 368–380.
Hershey, A. M., & Pavetti, L. A. (1997). Turning job finders into job keepers. Future of Children, 7, 74–86.
Hong, P. Y. P. (2013). Toward a client-centered benchmark for self-sufficiency: Evaluating the process of becoming job ready. Journal of Community Practice, 21, 356–378.
Hong, P. Y. P. (2016). Transforming Impossible into Possible (TIP): A bottom-up practice in workforce development for low-income jobseekers. Environment and Social Psychology, 1, 93–104.
Hong, P. Y. P., Choi, S., & Hong, R. (2020a). A randomized controlled trial study of transforming impossible into possible (TIP) policy experiment in South Korea. Research on Social Work Practice. https://doi.org/10.1177/1049731519894647.
Hong, P. Y. P., Choi, S., & Key, W. (2018a). Psychological self-sufficiency: A bottom-up theory of change in workforce development. Social Work Research, 42, 22–32.
Hong, P. Y. P., Choi, S., & Polanin, J. R. (2014a). A multi-sample confirmatory factor analysis of the Short Employment Hope Scale (EHS-14). Journal of Social Service Research, 40, 339–352.
Hong, P. Y. P., Hong, R., Lewis, D., & Williams, D. (2019a). Pathway of employment from uncovering barriers to discovering hope: Non-traditional, student-centered, relationship-based approach. Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social. https://doi.org/10.1177/1044389419864228.
Hong, P. Y. P., Kim, C., Hong, R., Park, J. H., & Lewis, D. (2020b). Examining psychological self-sufficiency among African-American low-income jobseekers in a health profession career pathway program. Social Work in Health Care, 59, 139–160.
Hong, P. Y. P., O’Brien, T., Park, J. H., Pigott, T., Hong, R., & Holland, B. (2019b). Psychological self-sufficiency (PSS): An empowerment-based theory for workforce training and adult education. In C. King & P. Y. P. Hong (Eds.), Pathways to careers in health care (pp. 303–349). Kalamazoo, MI: W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
Hong, P. Y. P., Polanin, J. R., & Pigott, T. D. (2012). Validation of the employment hope scale: Measuring psychological self-sufficiency among low-income jobseekers. Research on Social Work Practice, 22, 323–332.
Hong, P. Y. P., Polanin, J. R., Key, W., & Choi, S. (2014b). Development of the perceived employment barriers scale (PEBS): An empowerment perspective. Journal of Community Psychology, 43, 689–706.
Hong, P. Y. P., Sheriff, V., & Naeger, S. (2009). A bottom-up definition of self-sufficiency: Voices from low-income jobseekers. Qualitative Social Work, 8, 357–376.
Hong, P. Y. P., Song, I., Choi, S., & Park, J. H. (2016a). A cross-national validation of the Employment Hope Scale in the US and South Korea. Social Work Research, 40, 41–51.
Hong, P. Y. P., Song, I. H., Choi, S., & Park, J. H. (2018b). Comparison of perceived employment barriers among low-income jobseekers in the United States and South Korea. International Social Work, 61, 23–39.
Hong, P. Y. P., Stokar, H., & Choi, S. (2016b). Psychological and economic self-sufficiency among low-income jobseekers with physical disability barriers. Environment and Social Psychology, 1, 63–73.
Hong, R., Northcut, T., Spira, M., & Hong, P. Y. P. (2019c). Facilitating transformation in workforce training: Utilizing clinical theory to understand psychological self-sufficiency. Smith College Studies in Social Work, 89, 66–82.
Houssemand, C., & Meyers, R. (2011). Unemployment and mental health in a favorable labor market. International Journal of Psychology, 46, 377–385.
Hu, L., & Bentler, P. M. (1999). Cutoff criteria for fit indexes in covariance structure analysis: Conventional criteria versus new alternatives. Structural Equation Modeling: A Multidisciplinary Journal, 6, 1–55.
Jayakody, R., & Stauffer, D. (2000). Mental health problems among single mothers: Implications for work and welfare reform. Journal of Social Issues, 56, 617–634.
Kessler, R. C., House, J. S., & Turner, J. B. (1987). Unemployment and health in a community sample. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 28, 51–59.
Kline, R. B. (2011). Principles and practice of structural equation modeling (3rd ed.). New York: The Guilford Press.
Kouzis, A. C., & Eaton, W. W. (2000). Psychopathology and the initiation of disability payments. Psychiatric Services, 51, 908–913.
Knaeps, J., Neyen, I., van Weeghel, J., & Audenhove, C. V. (2015). Perspectives of hospitalized patients with mental disorders and their clinicians on vocational goals, barriers, and steps to overcome barriers. Journal of Mental Health, 24, 196–201.
Lazarus, R., & Folkman, S. (1984). Stress, appraisal, and coping. New York: Springer.
Lee, S. J., & Vinokur, A. D. (2007). Work barriers in the context of pathways to the employment of welfare-to-work clients. American Journal of Community Psychology, 40, 301.
Luthar, S. S., Cicchetti, D., & Becker, B. (2000). The construct of resilience: A critical evaluation and guidelines for future work. Child Development, 71, 543–562.
Mechanic, D., Bilder, S., & McAlpine, D. (2002). Employing persons with serious mental illness. Health Affairs, 21, 242–253.
Mossakowski, K. N. (2009). The influence of past unemployment duration on symptoms of depression among young women and men in the United States. American Journal of Public Health, 99, 1826–1832.
National Alliance on Mental Illness. (2014). Mental Illness: NAMI reports. Retrieved from https://www.nami.org/Press-Media/Press-Releases/2014/Mental-Illness-NAMI-Report-Deplores-80-Percent-Un.
Olson, K., & Pavetti, L. (1996). Personal and family challenges to the successful transition from welfare to work. Washington, DC: The Urban Institute.
Pager, D., Western, B., & Sugie, N. (2009). Sequencing disadvantage: Barriers to employment facing young black and white men with criminal records. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 623, 195–213.
Paul, K. I., & Moser, K. (2006). Incongruence as an explanation for the negative mental health effects of unemployment: meta-analytic evidence. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 79, 591–621.
Paul, K. I., & Moser, K. (2009). Unemployment impairs mental health: Meta-analysis. Journal of Vocational Behavior., 74, 264–282.
Price, R. H. (1992). Psychosocial impact of job loss on individuals and families. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 1, 9–11.
Rogers, H. (2003). Welfare reform: Making work really work. The Policy Studies Journal, 31, 89–100.
Saleebey, D. (2013). The strengths perspective in social work practice (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
Secker, J., Grove, B., & Seebohm, P. (2001). Challenging barriers to employment, training, and education for mental health service users: The service user’s perspective. Journal of Mental Health, 10, 395–404.
Siefert, K., Meflin, C. M., Corcoran, M. E., & Williams, D. R. (2004). Food insufficiency and physical and mental health in a longitudinal survey of welfare recipients. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 45, 171–186.
Siegel, D., & Abbott, A. (2007). The work lives of the low-income welfare poor. Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services, 88, 401–412.
Ullman, J. R. (2007). Structural equation modeling. In B. G. Tabachncick & L. S. Fidell (Eds.), Using multivariate statistics (5th ed., pp. 676–781). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.
Waters, L. E., & Moore, K. A. (2002). Reducing latent deprivation during unemployment: The role of meaningful leisure activity. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 75, 15–32.
Whooley, M. A., Kiefe, C. I., Chesney, M. A., Markovitz, J. H., Matthews, K., & Hulley, S. B. (2002). Depressive symptoms, unemployment, and loss of income: the CARDIA Study. Archives of Internal Medicine, 162, 2614–2620.
This work was supported by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services / Administration for Children and Families under Grant [90HG1003; 90PH0018]; Korea Foundation [2019-RF-020; 2016-RF0021]; and Lloyd A. Fry Foundation.
Conflict of Interest
Authors declare that they have no potential conflict of interest that could have direct influence or impart bias on the work and that they maintain the integrity and transparency in data analysis and research process.
This study was approved by the ethics committee or institutional review board (IRB) of Loyola University Chicago.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
About this article
Cite this article
Hong, P.Y.P., Hong, R., Choi, S. et al. Examining Psychological Self-Sufficiency Among Low-Income Jobseekers with Mental Health Barriers. Community Ment Health J 57, 178–188 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10597-020-00630-7
- Psychological self-sufficiency
- Economic self-sufficiency
- Employment hope
- Employment barriers
- Mental health
- Structural equation modeling