Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Study Shows Association Between Mental Illness Severity and Employment and Income

More severe mental illness appears to be associated with lower employment rates in recent years, and people with serious mental illness are less likely than people with no, mild, or moderate mental illness to be employed after age 49, according to the report, “Employment Status of People With Mental Illness: National Survey Data From 2009 and 2010,” published in Psychiatric Services in Advance.

Researchers from Dartmouth Psychiatric Research Center and the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice at Geisel School of Medicine examined data on a sample of more than 77,000 participants aged 18–64 from the 2009 and 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Two well-established scales to assess mental health distinguished participants with none, mild, moderate, or serious mental illness. Analyses compared employment rate and income by mental illness severity. Employment status was estimated with statistical analysis controlling for demographic characteristics and substance use disorders.

Researchers found that employment rates decreased with increasing mental illness severity (no mental illness, 75.9% employment; mild, 68.8%; moderate, 62.7%; and serious, 54.5%). In addition, 38.5% of people with serious mental illness had annual incomes of less than $10,000, compared with 23.1% of people with no mental illness.

“Education status, known to facilitate employment opportunities, was the strongest predictor of employment even among people with serious mental illness,” the researchers said. “This finding is consistent with previous research in clinical and community samples and suggests that facilitating educational achievement may facilitate job placement. Longitudinal research is needed to test alternative explanations: educational achievement may be a proxy for later illness onset, less serious illness, or more intensive service use.”

To read more about employment and mental illness, see the Psychiatric News article, “Study Finds Evidence Showing Supported Employment Works.”

(Image: Ivelin Radkov/shutterstock.com)


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