- Report Published -
|Employability Needs of Persons With Serious Mental Illness, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Problems|
|Department of Mental Health; Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Services; Department of Rehabilitative Services|
|SJR 151 (Regular Session, 1998)|
|A large number of Virginians with mental illness, mental retardation and substance abuse problems seek help each year from community programs. The goal of Virginia's public mental health, mental retardation and substance abuse system is to assure that consumers have access to adequate, continuing supports and to services in settings that promote the highest quality of life. Job skills and employment opportunities enable consumers to gain some independence and contribute to their own, their families' and their communities' financial well-being (SJR 151).|
Major Issues and Findings
• The Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Services (DMHMRSAS) and the Department of Rehabilitative Services (DRS) work together in an effective but limited way to address the employability needs of people with mental disabilities.
• Individualized supported employment services for people with mental disabilities can be cost effective for taxpayers.
• People with mental disabilities have excessively high rates of unemployment even though they desire and can obtain competitive employment.
• Stigma about people with mental disabilities hampers their opportunities for gainful employment.
• The DMHMRSAS does not currently emphasize the provision of employment services to people with mental disabilities.
• Existing financial disincentives inhibit the development of employment services.
• State of the art practices in the provision of employment services for people with mental disabilities are not widespread in Virginia.
• DRS/DMHMRSAS/Community Services Boards coordinated employment programs appear to result in greater employability for adults with a serious mental illness and those with substance abuse problems.
Pending federal legislation may significantly alter important facets of employment services.
• DMHMRSAS and DRS should enhance and expand current joint activities to address the employability needs of people with mental disabilities:
- implement successful pilot programs statewide for adults with a serious mental illness and for those with substance abuse problems;
- educate the public and employers about the potential of people with mental disabilities to be valuable workers;
- initiate, develop and implement a statewide plan to successfully employ consumers in the public mental health system;
- develop and implement a knowledge, skills and training initiative on state of the art practices in employment services;
- establish a work group to specifically address the vocational and employment needs of young adults.
• DMHMRSAS and DRS should adopt and implement financial incentives and funding strategies to promote the expansion of cost effective employment options for people with mental disabilities:
- incorporate financial incentives for positive employment outcomes in provider contracts;
- integrate the provision of individualized employment placements and supports into the mental health Medicaid carve out that is currently under study.
• DMHMRSAS should evaluate consumer operated employment programs and psychosocial rehabilitation programs to determine the nature, extent and effectiveness of vocational services and supports that they provide.
• DMHMRSAS and DRS should utilize the results of pending studies on employment services for people with mental disabilities in Virginia and changes in federal vocational rehabilitation legislation to refine these recommendations and develop action plans to enhance employment services for this population.