NDEAM Quick Looks: Improving Employment Outcomes for People with Psychiatric Disabilities

This October marks the 75th observance of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), designated by the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) at the Department of Labor. The theme for 2020 is “Increasing Access and Opportunity.” Throughout the month we are featuring research and resources from the NIDILRR community and elsewhere aimed at improving employment outcomes for people across the disability spectrum. We start with resources for people with psychiatric disabilities.

People with psychiatric disabilities have conditions like schizophrenia, depression, anxiety disorders, and bipolar disorder, among others. Research shows that people with psychiatric disabilities are less likely to be competitively employed than their peers without these disabilities. They may encounter stigma or discrimination which may limit their access to employment. Other challenges may present barriers to employment such as managing physical health and wellness or access to transportation. Here are a few resources which may help overcome these barriers

Disclosure, Stigma, and the Workplace

The Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Improving Employment Outcomes for Individuals with Psychiatric Disabilities Ask Me Anything About Employment webinar series has features several sessions on this topic including disability disclosure and accommodations, mental health problems that interfere with work, keeping employment. Explore the full series.

Young adults with mental health conditions joining the workforce may have many questions about finding, interviewing for, and keeping a job. The Learning and Working During the Transition to Adulthood Rehabilitation Research and Training Center has tip sheets and infocomics that tackle subjects like disclosing mental health conditions at work, connecting with peer mentors, and laws that can help protect them from discrimination. Browse the collection of employment tip sheets, infocomics, and more.

Employers can play a significant role in fostering employment success and reducing the stigma of mental illness in the workplace. The Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN) developed the Mental Health Toolkit: Resources for Fostering a Mentally Healthy Workplace. The toolkit is a gateway to background, tools, and resources that can help employers learn more about mental health issues and cultivate a welcoming and supporting work environment for employees with lived experience in mental illness.

Staying Healthy for Work

The Center on Integrated Health Care and Self-Directed Recovery has a solutions suite that includes many tools for people with psychiatric disabilities to help maintain their physical health and wellness so that they can be successful at work and in the community. Explore the Solutions Suite of Integrated Health and Mental Health Care tools to find the Physical Wellness for Work workbook (with companion podcast and webinar), a Wellness Activities Manual, and much more.

The Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Community Living and Participation of People with Serious Mental Illness has developed a collection of guides and factsheets to increase physical activity to improve wellness and community access. Among the tools you’ll find the Bike Share Intervention, which encourages people to use rental bikes (bike share) safely in the community. In addition to the health benefits, these programs can address access to independent transportation to get to work, school, and appointments.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) offers research and resources for consumers and practitioners to find treatment and support. Visit the Evidence Based Practices Resource Center for information and tools for mental health, substance use support, and wellness.

Research In Focus

Our Research In Focus series has highlighted several NIDILRR-funded studies on employment and psychiatric disabilities:

These are just a few examples of resources from NIDILRR grantees and other agencies and organizations to help people with psychiatric disabilities find, get, and keep a job, and to support their employers in creating welcoming work environments. To learn more, explore the employment-related projects funded by NIDILRR in the Program Database!

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