Professors Make Argument for Supported Employment for People with Mental Illness

In a recent article published in Health Affairs, a health care policy journal, several professors advocate for greater funding for supported employment programs for people with mental illness. The authors argue that supported employment is a key therapeutic tool that could cut the costs of treating people with mental illness and reduce their reliance on public benefits.

Supported employment has been around since the 1990s and provides a somewhat different approach from many traditional employment services for people with mental illness. As the authors explain, employment specialists team up with mental health professionals to help clients "identify what kind of work they would like to do, find a job as quickly as possible, and succeed on the job or move to another job, while avoiding the lengthy assessments and prevocational training of traditional approaches." According to research, supported employment programs typically place about two-thirds of program enrollees in competitive employment.

The authors advocate increased funding for supported employment programs but acknowledge that these programs are often the first to be cut when states face budget shortfalls because it is often difficult to describe the services offered as medically necessary. Among options for decreasing the cost of supported employment, the authors call for ending the practice of making people prove they are disabled in order to receive health insurance, thereby encouraging more people to work and providing supported employment earlier in the course of mental health treatment.

To read the full article, click here.

Article Last Modified: 06/01/2009