Function in Job Seekers with Mental Illness and Drug and Alcohol Problems Who Access Community Based Disability Employment Services

About the study

This study examined functioning, health, and social needs of job seekers with mental illness, and further compared their results to that of job seekers with both mental illness and drug and alcohol issues. Using data collected from 2009 to 2010 for this study, the report provides information about unmet psychological, physical, and social needs of job seekers with mental illness and those with additional drug and alcohol problems. The study identifies barriers to employment for these job seekers and how they can be supported through vocational rehabilitation interventions.

 

What can be learned from this study?

• Compared to older job seekers, young job seekers with mental health problems are more likely to have greater unmet needs and experience functioning problems as a result of additional drug and alcohol issues.

• Not surprisingly, job seekers who had substance use and alcohol problems in addition to mental illness reported experiencing more issues such as poor memory and serial order reversal. The study suggests incorporating cognitive remediation strategies to vocational rehabilitation programs to support job seekers with mental illness who also suffer drug and alcohol problems.

• Using a screening tool to conduct initial assessment of job seekers with mental health problems for unmet psychological, physical, and social needs allows service providers to provide a better treatment and improve employment outcomes for both job seekers with mental illness and those with additional drug and alcohol problems.

• 60 percent of participants in this study indicated unmet needs in their social life, which may stem from long-term unemployment, suggesting the need to provide these job seekers with work-related opportunities through vocational rehabilitation programs or other educational programs.

• Referrals to disability employment services were made based on the level of work functioning of job seekers. The researchers found that job seekers with anxiety disorders or depression were more likely to be referred than others with more serious psychotic disorders. Measures should be taken to improve referral practice for people with greater functioning needs.

 

What method(s) did the study use?

All clients of a disability employment service provider receiving job placement services in Sydney, New South Wales who were over 16 years of age and diagnosed with a mental health condition were invited to participate in the study. Data for 116 participants was collected from 2009 to 2010 (14 months). Participants completed a series of questionnaires and measures and were divided into sub-groups with and without additional drug and alcohol problems. One-way between groups analysis of variance determined differences between groups for continuous variables and chi-square test for independence identified group differences for categorical variables.