Improving Employment Outcomes for People with Psychiatric Disorders and Other Disabilities. B. Purpose of the Report


The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) funded the Improving Employment Outcomes for People with Psychiatric Disorders and Other Disabilities Project. The purpose of this project is to identify policy measures that are barriers or facilitators to employment among people with psychiatric disorders and identify improvements in health care and human services programs in a post-ACA environment that are likely to reduce these barriers. ASPE was particularly interested in knowing what supports will assist the following subgroups of people with psychiatric disorders:

  • Individuals who are now or who are expected to be long-term clients of mental health services and are in the process of applying for disability benefits.

  • Individuals at risk of losing employment due to mental illness.

  • Individuals experiencing an initial episode of psychosis and needing early-intervention (EI) services, such as transition-aged youth.

ASPE also wished to explore how the ACA can be used to fund services and supports that will assist people with SMI who are in the aforementioned three subgroups to find and keep employment.

This project targeted the following overarching questions:

  • What services are most effective in helping people with psychiatric disorders in the three subgroups mentioned above find and keep employment?

  • What are the work-support needs of and services currently available to individuals with other disabilities? What can income and service-use trajectories of participants in particular programs tell us about service needs and program effectiveness?

  • What policies and funding can be adopted to overcome employment barriers for people with psychiatric disorders and other disabilities in a post-ACA environment?

To answer these questions, we conducted two targeted literature reviews: (1) employmentprograms and outcomes for people with psychiatric disorders (O'Day et al. 2013); and (2) employment programs for people with other disabilities (Martin et al. 2013). We also analyzed data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) to examine service-use trajectories of vulnerable populations that might be expected to apply for SSDI benefits. We also examined literature and policy documents that outlined funding options for employment services for people with psychiatric disorders and other disabilities.

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