Here is an extract from the latest NAMI e-mail on pervasive unemployment amongst the mentally ill. NAMI's statistics reveal that 80% of people living with a mental illness are unemployed.
EMPLOYMENT: A CORNERSTONE OF RECOVERY
While successful approaches such as supported employment have been around for nearly two decades, the staggering unemployment rate for adults living with mental illness remains a national disgrace. Integrated employment remains a key element of recovery despite substantial evidence on what is effective in helping individuals get and keep a job is unavailable in many parts of the country.
NAMI will present a symposium on July 8 featuring nationally recognized experts on supported employment and innovative agencies that have successfully placed people living with mental illness in jobs and continue to assist them keep those jobs. Speaking at this important session is Tony Zipple, the executive director of Thresholds. As a leader and innovator in rehabilitation, Thresholds has served as a model for other agencies. Hundreds of agencies and others in the United States and abroad have adopted parts of the Thresholds program.
Joining Dr. Zipple are Deborah Becker and Dr. Robert Drake, co-directors of the Dartmouth IPS Supported Employment Center. Individual Placement and Support (IPS) supported employment is an evidence-based practice that assists people living with severe mental illness in returning to return to work. Compared to other vocational approaches, people who utilize IPS are almost three times more likely to find a regular job in the community than people who participate in other types of employment programs.
If you're unable to join us in Chicago, don't worry! We will feature comprehensive daily updates from the convention on NAMI.org as well as on Facebook and Twitter.
You have to be in good mental shape to be a candidate for the competitive job market and to hold down a job. If a patient is not able to work in a competitive job market, they are not sufficiently recovered/reconstructed/constructed. (See comments to earlier post.) If the statistics are as dismal as NAMI claims, one must ask, why aren't these people in good enough shape to seek employment? For many of us, our first instinct is to say "it's the drugs that stop people from working!" To me, the answer may be found by challenging the prevailing view of "severe mental illness" as mainly a medical problem. Assistance has been directed towards seeing the person as a patient/consumer of services rather than an individual with a unique story. Being an adult "living with mental illness" (today's version of what recovery means) obviously isn't helping people earn a paycheque.