News on Wellness

80% Unemployment Rate Among Mentally Ill People

Unemployment among adults with severe mental illnesses reaches 80 per cent, a new report revealed. The statistics comes from a state-by-state analysis of employment among people with mental illnesses.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that, apart from significant disadvantage in employment opportunities, only 1.7% of this group received supported employment services in 2012, which means they are covered by expensive public programs, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Income (SSDI).

The report says that around 60 per cent of people with mental illness want to work, with two-thirds able to successfully hold down a job if given appropriate support. However, less than 2 per cent of people in the public mental health system participate in cost-effective programmes called supported employment. One of the reasons behind this situation may be the fact that, unlike medication, employment support has no central funding source.

Supported employment, where job coaches help people cope with the demands of their new jobs, cost about $4,000 a year. Given that lost earnings and disability payments account for about two-thirds of the $444 billion cost of mental illness in the USA, supported employment programmes can help save tens of thousands of dollars.

Discrimination is one of the key factors keeping the mentally ill out of the workforce. Also, those living on disability benefits feel they can’t afford to work for fear of losing these payments.

The researchers note that the reported unemployment rate is likely to be higher because the study didn’t account for over 500,000 people who have mental illnesses and are either homeless or in jail.

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