The Promise of Demand Side Employer-Based Strategies to Increase Employment Rates for People Living With Serious Mental Illnesses

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Abstract

Objective: This article describes current and promising demand-side strategies to increase job retention and employment rates of people living with serious mental illnesses. The article raises awareness of the potential impact of demand side strategies and generates considerations to implement and evaluate these strategies. Method: Information is drawn from peer reviewed research, policy articles and documents, and the authors’ direct experiences. Results: Employees with serious mental illnesses struggle to retain jobs due to workplace stigma, difficulty accessing reasonable accommodations, and noneligibility for health benefits. The traditional focus of vocational services on direct individualized supports has not addressed these employer-based challenges. Conclusions and Implications for Practice: The federal government, primarily through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, is increasing resources to guide businesses to adopt best practices for employing people with serious mental illnesses. Financial incentives, such as tax credits for hiring people with disabilities, are considered vital toward employers’ cooperation.

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