News and events Tilburg University

Majority of managers reluctant to hire applicants with mental health problems

Published: 15th January 2021 Last updated: 21st January 2021

A new Tranzo survey of 670 executives in all Dutch sectors shows that a majority (64%) is reluctant to hire applicants with mental health problems (MHP). In addition, one in three managers would not quickly hire an employee who has ever had MHP, even if those problems are no longer an issue. The publication by Kim Janssens et al. will soon be published in the renowned journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine (OEM), part of the British Medical Journals.

The research focused on the knowledge, attitude and experiences of managers with regard to employees who have had, for example, depression, burnout, anxiety and stress. The conclusions have major consequences for social inclusion in the Netherlands, especially since earlier Tilburg research shows 75% of employees choose to be open about mental health problems at work.

The most important findings

  • The majority (64%) of a representative group of managers (670) in all Dutch sectors were reluctant to hire a job applicant with MHP despite the fact that only 7% had negative and 52% had positive personal experiences with such employees.
  • Still 30% of the managers surveyed are reluctant to hire applicants with past MHP. That means that even after recovery, the stigma persists  which can lead to employment discrimination.
  • 91% of the managers had one or more concerns regarding hiring employees with MHP. Future interventions and education should address these concerns. Prevalent ones included reports of not knowing how to help (39%) or deal with (19%) the employee and the concern that it will negatively affect the workplace atmosphere (40%).
  • This study illustrates that workplace stigma is a problem for social inclusion. That is why interventions are needed to reduce prejudices and improve the knowledge of managers about this in order to support employees with MHP  instead of excluding them. 


The publication in Occupational & Environmental Medicine (OEM) by Kim Janssens, Evelien Brouwers, Margot Joosen, Jolanda Mathijssen & Jaap van Weeghel (all Tranzo, Tilburg School of Social and Behavioral Sciences), Carolyn Dewa (University of California at Davis) and Claire Henderson (King’s College London) is entitled: Line Managers’ Hiring Intentions regarding People with Mental Health Problems: a Cross-Sectional Study on Workplace Stigma.

For further details and questions please contact Kim Janssens MSc, Tranzo, Tilburg School of Social and Behavioral Sciences. E-mail:; T: 013-4664696.