The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has released a report indicating that the employment rates for people with serious mental illnesses are incredibly low.

In 2012, only 17.8 percent of people receiving public mental health services were employed, making the unemployment rate over 80 percent.

“It isn’t surprising”, said Sita Diehl, director of state policy at NAMI and author of the report. “We knew that mental health services really took it on the chin during the recession. Employment rates had already been dismal to begin with, and when the supports were eroded, people with mental illness lost support and lost jobs.”

The report noted that most adults with mental illnesses actually wanted to work, yet were not given the proper supports to do so. Only 1.7 percent of them received supported employment services in 2012, even though the study shows that if everyone was given the correct supports, about 60 percent of adults with mental illnesses could work.

Since many adults cannot get the support they need and thus cannot work, they end up on programs like Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Income (SSDI). These programs are expensive, and they cost  both the government and tax payers a fortune every year.

“We need to give these folks a little bit more help and then they can become more productive and they won’t be on disability or unemployed or in our jails or on our streets,” said Jennifer Boyden of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

The report concludes by saying that more services, like supported employment programs, need to be provided. Not only with this help individuals with mental illnesses live better, fuller lives, but it will also help out the economy by taking them out of expensive government funded programs and getting them into the workforce.


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