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.
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.