Supported employment helps people 18 and older with mental illness, intellectual or developmental disabilities, and traumatic brain injury find jobs that pay competitive wages. These jobs are all in integrated settings in the community, meaning you will work with other people who don’t necessarily have disabilities. Unlike traditional vocational rehabilitation, which provides job readiness and other training, this program individualizes its services to align with your interests and preferences.
Studies show that the supported employment model has many benefits:
- Competitive work with more hours and higher wages.
- Improvements in symptoms, self-esteem and satisfaction with finances and viewing work as a meaningful part of life.
- Prevention or reduction of relapses, re-hospitalizations, severe symptoms, or distress.
Supported employment is based on seven principles.
- Zero exclusion – Anyone who wants to participate and makes a personal choice to participate in supported employment is eligible.
- Integration – Frequent communication with comprehensive mental health treatment and vocational services leads to success.
- Competitive employment – People can get community-based jobs at competitive wages.
- Benefits planning – People working in the community can get personalized benefits counseling and work incentives.
- Rapid job search – The process of finding a job starts soon after the person expresses interest in working.
- Follow-along supports – Individualized assistance to people working in the community is continual and available as long as needed and wanted.
- Preference – Personal preferences strongly influence the type of job sought, the nature of support provided by employment specialists, and decisions about disclosing one’s disability to the employer.