Recent advances in psychiatric research and treatment give growing hope that ways of preventing mental illness may be found. Clinicians and social scientists have collaborated in mapping the incidence and prevalence of mental illness in various cultures, social classes, and geographical areas. Other studies have shown how the mental hospital milieu influences the course of the patient's recovery. These and other investigations indicate that if we are to learn how mental illness can be averted, the relationships between the person and his environment must be more fully understood.
One important aspect of the environment is work experience. In our culture, most people who work full time spend approximately half of their waking hours on the job. For large numbers of adults work experience means membership in an organization, which may continue over many years. A person in a company is affected by the crosscurrents of organizational life, and by the economic fate of the organization. Sometimes he is in conflict with the organization because of demands the company makes on him and those he makes on the company.
Thus, much of how a person feels about himself and the world around him derives from his experiences while earning a living. But because the work environment involves more than a person's individual job assignment, or immediate work group, a concern with mental health in work situations must take into account the context within which these work situations are established, the organization of business and industry.
Accordingly, when The Menninger Foundation began considering what might be done to prevent mental illness, the ex