California To Encourage People With Mental Illnesses To Work Without Losing State Benefits
The Department of Mental Health recently announced plans to make "supported employment" -- a movement that encourages people with severe mental illnesses who are able and willing to work to earn regular salaries without risking state-funded benefits -- a "benchmark of its treatment programs," the Los Angeles Times reports.
The state will pay for the new work programs with funds from Proposition 63, a state ballot initiative passed last year that could raise $280 million for new mental health services by 2010.
Deborah Becker, a research professor at Dartmouth Medical School, said, "Helping people with mental illness find work can be a major step in their recovery and an important part in helping them develop a healthy psychological life." Becker said that although only 5% to 10% of U.S. residents with severe mental illnesses currently have jobs, as many as one-third might eventually work.
However, some experts said "mainstream jobs aren't for everyone," particularly because new antipsychotic drugs do not work for all patients and a "significant portion" of patients do not take their medication regularly (Costello, Los Angeles Times, 10/31).