Managing Communication at the Work-Life Boundary: Parents of Children and Youth with Mental Health Disorders and Human Resource Professionals

Julie M. Rosenzweig, Anna M. Malsch, Eileen M. Brennan, Katherine J. Huffstutter, Lisa M. Stewart, Lisa A. Lieberman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Using qualitative methods, this study explored communication challenges experienced by parents of children or youth with mental health disorders when seeking family support in the workplace and by human resource professionals when responding to parents' requests. Five focus groups of twenty-eight employed parents and three focus groups of seventeen human resource professionals included participants who were predominantly female, European-American, and middle-aged. A communication boundary management model emerged from transcripts: parents communicated across the boundary between family and work and drew upon past experiences with disclosure and courtesy stigmatization in the workplace as they made decisions about revealing family information to human resource professionals. As parents and human resource staff grew in communication competence from prior experiences, negotiation regarding possible workplace supports progressed to more satisfactory outcomes. Recommendations for mental health service providers include exploring family members' work-life integration experiences and providing information about workplace supports and effective communication strategies.
Original languageAmerican English
JournalBest Practice in Mental Health
StatePublished - 2011


  • Human Resources Management
  • Medicine and Health Sciences
  • Medical Education

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