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Entrepreneurship,
Lived Experience,
and Research

Reclaiming Employment provides research-backed business tools to help those who have faced mental health-related challenges at work
Access to Reclaiming Employment is currently only through invitation.

What is the study about?

1) Over 6 months Reclaiming Employment will be evaluated for its usefulness and usability.


2) The study will follow 120 users as they use and interact with the Reclaiming Employment platform.


3) Users will be individuals who have faced mental health related challenges at work and are interested in self-employment.

The study aims to answer the following questions:

1) How is Reclaiming Employment being used to begin self-employment or to sustain and grow an existing small business?

2) Does using Reclaiming Employment impact users’ work-related and personal outcomes?

What does the study involve?

Test users will take our courses, explore the library, and network with peers in the forums for 6 months to see if using Reclaiming Employment helps them in their business journey.

Our research team will administer a self-report survey at the beginning and end of the 6 month period to see if users are meeting their employment goals, developing better self-efficacy, and whether quality of life has improved. Some users will also participate in in-depth interviews to better understand their experience of the platform and experiences with self-employment. Then we’ll follow-up three months after users stop using the platform to see if any changes are sustained.

Users are paid $20 for each survey and interview, and get complimentary access to Reclaiming Employment for 6 months.

What will happen with the results of the study?

Once we have collected data from users, we will use the results to improve the platform according to users’ experiences, publish results for the public and scientific audiences, and share them with stakeholders — such as peer support organizations, state vocational rehabilitation offices, and sources of future funding.

If you’d like to learn more about our efforts to disseminate actionable research evidence to improve mental health and social justice, please visit Live & Learn, Inc’s resource page.

How was Reclaiming Employment developed?

Our approach to developing Reclaiming Employment uses real-world wisdom, peer support, and the science of online learning to help users achieve their vision of small business success. Our startup resources are developed by people who’ve run their own businesses while facing major life challenges.

In 2017, we conducted a survey of 60 current business owners with a history of mental health-related challenges at work, plus did in-depth interviews with 10 additional business owners. The results of that study formed the basis for the offerings on the Reclaiming Employment platform: applied, self-paced courses; a peer support forum; and an organized resource library.

What we found from this research was that people choose self-employment for a variety of reasons, but mostly because they are looking for freedom and flexibility in their working conditions and the work that they do. Once self-employed, they often seek support from “informal” sources — such as other business owners and friends/family — and are less likely to use institutional supports such as the Small Business Development Center. Many of the respondents to the survey and interview shared their desire for community support, and the challenges they face as business owners who face mental health-related challenges at work, including trauma, discrimination, and self-doubt.

The results of the study have been published in academic journals and presented to multiple audiences. Here’s a list of articles; if you need help accessing, please email contact@LiveLearnInc.net and someone will provide you with a copy.

We also have research briefs designed for non-academic audiences:

Some reasons people choose self-employment

Innovation 95%
Mood/Mental Health Focus 92%
Work-life balance 98%
Income/self-sufficiency 95%
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