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Supported Employment Helps Young Adults with Disabilities

 

People who live with mental illness or disabilities face numerous challenges. One of the biggest barriers is finding and keeping adequate employment. Some young people with disabilities are on social security disability or receive benefits from their state and therefore may not be highly motivated to find employment. However, research shows that permanent employment can help improve the mental well-being, self-esteem, and financial condition of people with disabilities. Supported employment (SE) services are designed to help these people transition from school or nonwork situations to employment. However, it is unclear how much help SEs provide this segment of the population.

Jane Burke-Miller of the Center on Mental Health Services Research and Policy at the University of Illinois led a study that examined the outcomes of youth and young adults receiving services from SEs. She looked at 1,272 individuals ranging in age from 18 to 30 and found that, overall, SE seemed to improve outcomes for the majority of the participants. “However, for those engaged in SE, this advantage appears to be primarily among young adults rather than youth,” Burke-Miller said. Specifically, the younger individuals, those under age 24, seemed to be focused more on completing educational goals prior to entering the workforce. They also took several different jobs rather than staying in one position long-term. This could be a normal pattern of behavior for identity formation, as young people tend to try many different avenues of employment before finding a good fit.

For the young adults, those ranging in age from 25 to 30, the SE seemed to have the most impact. These individuals were more likely to enter and stay in the workforce than the younger participants. Burke-Miller also found some additional barriers to employment. Those who received social security income or state aid were less likely to pursue active employment than those who did not. Income-limit guidelines for these programs could dissuade recipients from looking for full-time employment. Also, family members who rely on this supplemental income in order to care for the disabled individual may not want to risk losing these benefits in exchange for the possibility of full-time income. Although these issues were not fully investigated in this study, they should be looked at in future work. Burke-Miller believes, these factors notwithstanding, that the results of this study show that SEs provide much-needed assistance to young adults with disabilities but these services might need to shift their focus in order to be truly helpful to the youngest and oldest disabled potential employees.

Reference:
Burke-Miller, Jane, Lisa A. Razzano, Dennis D. Grey, Crystal R. Blyler, and Judith A. Cook. Supported employment outcomes for transition age youth and young adults. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal 35.3 (2012): 171-79. Print.

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Comments
  • Trey December 13th, 2012 at 4:18 PM #1

    I have always found that when someone feels wanted and needed they are far more likely to work hard and try to make a difference than those who don’t feel as if they are making any sort of positive impact anywhere in life. I know that this is the case in any job that I have ever had, and evidently this is true across the spectrum. Most people want to find their place where they feel needed and accepted for who they are as well as be made to feel as if they are making a positive contribution to others. Many times a job is just what someone with a diability needs to show them that they are a productive member of society and that they work that they are provided is valuable and necessary. I think that this is a good thing for anyone to feel but especially important for those who may have once felt marginalized by society and who may ultimately be seeking a way to fit in and do something meaningful.

  • LR December 13th, 2012 at 11:20 PM #2

    well I don’t know about those that do not seek employment because they enjoy benefits but for those that do it can really lift their self worthiness.it gives you that feeling f doing something important and that could even help
    with feeling better about their disability.

    encouraging to see that SE is producing the intended results and I wish more and more people make use of the facility.

  • sheila s December 14th, 2012 at 4:08 AM #3

    As long as they are able to work somewhere that will build then up instead of tear them down, well, then I am all for that

  • c weiner December 14th, 2012 at 7:24 AM #4

    This makes me so mad:

    Those who received social security income or state aid were less likely to pursue active employment than those who did not. Income-limit guidelines for these programs could dissuade recipients from looking for full-time employment. Also, family members who rely on this supplemental income in order to care for the disabled individual may not want to risk losing these benefits in exchange for the possibility of full-time income.

    Why on earth do we as Americans continue to elect people into office that motivate people to not work and depend on others’ incomes to have their needs met? Why do we not demand that those who are dependent pass drug tests via the people we elect?

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