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SAMHSA News - May/June 2006, Volume 14, Number 3

From the Administrator: Employment Can Enhance Recovery

photo of Charles G. Curie, M.A., A.C.S.W., SAMHSA Administrator

Charles G. Curie
SAMHSA Administrator

Many people with serious mental illnesses face a dual challenge: recovery from mental illness, and recovery or acquisition of the skills and abilities needed to function successfully within the community—including the workplace.

Recovery from a mental illness is a deeply personal process that means different things to different people and may entail a variety of goals. Although it may not be the best option for everyone, a job can motivate an individual to change and offers dignity, self-respect, a clear sense of identity, and hope for the future. In fact, consumers of mental health services often tell us that a job can serve as an aid to their recovery process.

Knowing that many people with serious mental illnesses want to work, what factors keep them from doing so? The stigma associated with mental illness may make employers reluctant to hire them. Loss of entitlement benefits due to increased income combined with a fear of personal failure may cause paralyzing anxiety. Mental illnesses and possible co-occurring substance use disorders may contribute to functional impairments in a person's ability to obtain and sustain a job. A lack of job training may lead to a lack of employment skills.

What are the best ways to overcome these barriers and increase employment success for people with serious mental illnesses? During the past two decades, a number of best practices have been developed, and while particular approaches may differ, those described in this issue of SAMHSA News suggest several common elements. These include the integration of employment services with other mental health rehabilitation services; an emphasis on individual preference and practical assistance in finding jobs; ongoing assessment and support during all phases, including contemplation of employment, determination, action, maintenance, and possible relapse; and encouragement of vocational goals.

Employment requires not just the ability to perform a set of tasks, but also organizational abilities, priority setting, time management, anger management, and the ability to negotiate with others. These skills simultaneously enhance personal recovery as they contribute to vocational growth.

With the proper encouragement and support, each can nurture and strengthen the other, creating a stronger society with fewer people living in poverty and dependent on disability benefits, and resilient and self-sufficient individuals with fulfilling and satisfying lives. End of Article

Charles G. Curie, M.A., A.C.S.W.
Administrator, SAMHSA

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Inside This Issue

Employment: Help for People with Mental Illness
Part 1
Part 2

From the Administrator: Employment Can Enhance Recovery

Special Report - The Road Home: National Conference on Returning Veterans & Their Families
The Road Home: National Conference on Returning Veterans & Their Families

Community Services Provide Safety Net for Returning Veterans
Part 1
Part 2

Addressing Special Needs of Veterans

Preventing Suicide among Veterans

Recovery Month Includes Veterans

Resources for Veterans

Report to Congress Offers Plan To Reduce Underage Drinking

Substance Use State by State

Therapeutic Community Curriculum Available

Community-Based Care Helps Children

Updates on SAMHSA Grants

Summit To Discuss Disaster Preparedness

SAMHSA Hosts HBCU Conference

Older Adult Treatment Admissions

SAMHSA News Information

SAMHSA News - May/June 2006, Volume 14, Number 3