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80 Percent of Adults with Severe Mental Illnesses are Unemployed

Update Date: Jul 10, 2014 09:22 AM EDT

Mental illnesses can be hard to overcome even with the help of medical treatments and therapy. In a new report compiled by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), researchers discovered that the unemployment rate for people with severe mental illnesses is more than 80 percent.

"It isn't surprising," stated Sita Diehl, director of state policy at NAMI and author of the report, according to the Washington Post. "We knew that mental health services really took it on the chin during the recession. Employment rates had already been dismal to begin with, and when the supports were eroded, people with mental illness lost support and lost jobs."

The report calculated that from 2003 to 2012, the percentage of people with mental illness receiving care who were employed fell from 23 percent to 17.8 percent. However, around 60 percent of people with mental illnesses stated that they wanted to work and the researchers estimated that around two-thirds of the people could be successful at their respective jobs given proper support. The report added that less than two percent of the people in the public mental health system get supported employment.

 "These statistics paint a pretty bleak picture," Mary Giliberti, executive director of NAMI, said according to the Detroit Free Press. "We think we can do a lot better."

The researchers added that their numbers most likely underestimate the unemployment rate because the team did not account for mentally ill homeless people or prisoners. The researchers stressed the importance of addressing the unemployment rate by finding ways to assist the mentally ill, such as jumpstarting programs that can place mentally ill people in certain job positions.

Giliberti added, "Work is critical to identity, to dignity, to who you are. When we are funding work, we are decreasing the cost of future treatment."

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