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Employment rate dropping for people with serious mental illness

People who are suffering from mental illness face a number of challenges in their daily lives. Depending on the extent of their condition, they may require ongoing care and powerful medication to manage symptoms. However, many people are able to get the help they need so that they can lead a lifestyle similar to those who are not suffering from the same condition.

For many people, this includes finding a job. Adults who suffer from mental illness, which might include post-traumatic stress disorder, autism, schizophrenia or bipolar disorders, often have a desire to work. And reports suggest that about 6 out of 10 people with mental illness can work in jobs and earn a living; so why is the unemployment rate for this population plummeting?

According to a report by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 80 percent of people who suffer from mental illness and receive public health services are unemployed. Without the ability to work, many of these people will likely need to apply for Social Security disability benefits or other public support programs.

There are a couple explanations for the troubling state of mentally ill and employment. Primarily, the decline is linked to struggling assistance programs that typically support adults with mental illness. Programs that help people find jobs, prepare for interviews and find success in their occupations are losing funding and closing down. Another issue could be on the part of employers who may be less likely or able to provide workers with certain accommodations as the economy continues to threaten their bottom line. Companies are also seeking to fill jobs in highly-skilled positions, for which many people do not qualify.

This is certainly an upsetting reality for people with mental illness who want to work but cannot find a job or do not have the resources to secure steady employment. Without income, it can be difficult for a person to get the care they need and provide for their families. However, it might be of some comfort to realize that there are programs like SSDI that provide temporary or permanent assistance to those who suffer from a qualifying mental condition.

Source: Medscape, "Adults With Serious Mental Illnesses Face 80% Unemployment, Report Says," Jenny Gold, July 11, 2014

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