Employment helps all people, including people with mental illnesses, live independently, build personal relationships, and be involved in their communities. Unemployment contributes to low self-esteem, isolation, and hopelessness.
Supported employment helps people with serious mental illnesses achieve and maintain competitive employment. Supported employment programs help individuals find a job in an integrated setting that pays a competitive salary. Job training, where necessary, happens on the job, not before the individual seeks work. Services – including help with applications, social skills training, transportation, benefits counseling, and job coaching – and the job itself are based on the individual’s choices and interests. Services are provided as long as needed and change according to the individual’s changing needs.
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Discrimination makes it difficult for people with mental illnesses to find and keep a job. The Americans with Disabilities Act outlaws discrimination in employment and requires employers to modify jobs and workplaces (“accommodations”) in ways that help someone with a mental illness successfully perform their job. Required accommodations include a leave of absence, a modified or part-time work schedule, modifying a conduct or attendance policy, job restructuring, job coaching, working from home, environmental changes, and reassignment to a vacant position.