Among the many fallouts faced by people with serious mental illnesses is not being able to continue in gainful employment. Continuing to work is a huge challenge for such patients. However, a recent research by Sydney’s Westmead Institute for Medical Research offers a ray of hope for people with severe mental illness. The study revealed that web-based cognitive remediation therapies coupled with employment programs can help patients with mental disorders obtain and continue in employment.
Dr. Anthony Harris, psychiatrist and lead researcher of the study, said, “People with severe mental illness want to work, but find it very difficult to find and stay in work.” The researchers studied 86 people with a series of severe mental illnesses like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and psychotic depression, from across New South Wales. They found that on an average, the participants who used web-based therapies worked three times the number of hours and earned almost $2000 more than the control study group.
Low rate of employment in patients of mental disorders
A person struggling with a mental illness faces poor employment due to various reasons, said Dr. Harris. The negative symptoms of their disease, interruptions in education and training, and impairment of cognitive functions due to psychosis are among the reasons why there is a poor rate of employment among people with severe mental illnesses.
According to Dr. Harris, cognitive training can help improve the symptoms of mental disorders. “Cognitive training, such as our web-based therapies, is an alternate approach to treating these problems. These therapies work by helping people to practice their thinking skills, which is a good way of helping the brain,” he said.
Web-based therapies have greater reach
The researchers felt that web-based therapies have a wider reach and the potential to influence a larger section of the population concerned. Another advantage of such online therapies is that regional and remote communities, which otherwise remain bereft of adequate mental health care, can access them.
Further, web-based therapies give better results when combined with evidence-based support programs, said Dr. Harris. “I am optimistic we can improve employment outcomes for people living with severe mental illness.” Providing meaningful employment to individuals with mental disorders can help a majority of them to break free from the bonds of poverty and achieve, maintain or re-attain financial independence. The researchers now want to utilize other similar techniques to motivate young people back into education and work.
U.S. facing similar problem
The situation in the United States is no different with mental illness posing a serious threat to people who want to get and stay in gainful employment. According to a 2014 report by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), from 2003 to 2012, there was a 23 percent decline in employment opportunities for those suffering from a mental illness. Further, less than 18 percent individuals with a mental disorder were gainfully employed. Though the figures present a bleak picture, the situation can be improved by adopting measures akin to what the Australian researchers have suggested.
Dealing with mental illness
The best way to address any mental disorder is to seek immediate treatment. A delayed intervention could exacerbate symptoms, which can complicate the condition, leading to a longer and tougher treatment process.
Sovereign Health is a leading mental health treatment caregiver in the U.S., with state-of-the-art facilities in major places across the country. We believe that the first step towards gainful employment is proper treatment.
If you have a loved one battling a serious mental illness, and you are looking for mental health treatment options, get in touch with our 24/7 helpline members for immediate assistance. If you want to know more about our alumni, sober events, social functions, support groups, 12-step program or recovery management programs, call our 24/7 helpline number 866-501-9425 or chat online with our experts.