Individuals with severe mental illness that have access to a supportive employment program benefit from it up to five years after enrollment.
Holger Hoffman, MD, of the University of Bern, Switzerland, and colleagues conducted a randomized, controlled trial comparing supportive employment to traditional vocational rehabilitation in 100 unemployed people with severe mental illness. Competitive work and hospital admissions were tracked for five years, and interviews were conducted at the second and fifth years to assess quality of life.
The supportive employment program in the study is known as the Job Coach Project. Employment specialists help participants with their job search. Participants also receive on-the-job training and support to help them maintain their employment.
Participants in the supported employment program were more likely to obtain competitive work than those in traditional vocational rehabilitation (65% vs. 33%), work more hours and weeks, earn higher wages, and have longer job tenures, the researchers reported in AJP in Advance.
“The results show that participants who received supported employment had fewer hospitalizations, which, combined with higher earnings from competitive employment, resulted in a higher social return on investment than traditional vocational rehabilitation,” Hoffman told Psychiatric News. “This study is a further contribution to the evidence of the effectiveness and economic efficiency of supported employment, not only in the long term, but also outside the United States."
The individual placement and support model of supported employment has been shown to be more effective than other vocational approaches in improving competitive work over one to two years in persons with severe mental illness. The authors evaluated the longer-term effects of the model compared with traditional vocational rehabilitation over 5 years.
A randomized controlled trial compared supported employment to traditional vocational rehabilitation in 100 unemployed persons with severe mental illness. Competitive work and hospital admissions were tracked for 5 years, and interviews were conducted at two and five years to assess recovery attitudes and quality of life. A cost-benefit analysis compared program and total treatment costs to earnings from competitive employment.