On the Cusp: Early Psychosis, Employment & Disability

Poster C111, Wednesday, October 10, 11:30 am - 1:00 pm, Essex Ballroom

Shannon Blajeski1; 1University of Washington

Income through employment is a social determinant of health, particularly in nations with market economies, yet individuals with severe mental illness (SMI) have historically been deprived of participation in employment, resulting in a high-level of poverty for this population. Poverty among adults with SMI in the U.S. is a function of a combination of historical, political, and economic factors, and adults living with severe mental illness have an unemployment rate of around 80%. Furthermore, low rates of social disability insurance payments, the primary source of income for a majority of individuals with SMI, fails to alleviate their poverty, as do menial employment options in the secondary labor market. Emerging research on early intervention for psychosis and employment indicates that these programs may be uniquely positioned to intervene with and possibly reverse the trend of long-term poverty for many individuals who develop psychosis. This oral presentation will review the literature on poverty and disability for mental illness and present the initial results of a case study exploring how first-episode young adults within the Oregon EASA program navigate returning to employment and school within the context of early intervention. Implications include changing the narrative within mental health policy and practice to formally target the poverty issue that currently encumbers individuals involved in public mental health systems particularly through more emphasis on promoting education pathways.

Topic Area: Service System Development and Reform

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