Employment is a Real-Time Benefit for PTSD Sufferers

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I just found this very nice article on a study that was performed on a range of people with mental illness. The results where actually very promising, and showed a definate increase in illness sustainability through work programs, return to work programs and earning a living in general.

Where occupational therapy was once seen as a treatment tool, the ability to work and earn a living is now recognized as a realistic outcome for many patients. In one study of workers with serious mental illness, Russinova and her colleagues found that 74% of the 687 participants had held the same job for 24 months or longer. In that group, 28% suffered from major depression, 17% had schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder, 42% had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and 11% had posttraumatic stress disorder or other dissociative disorder.

Across the country, programs are going beyond just training people with mental illnesses for jobs and helping them find employment opportunities. They are creating businesses in which workers who are mentally ill take an active part in running the enterprise, dealing with customers and sharing in the economic fruits of their labor.

Source: Psychiatric Times
And this is what jumps out at me, highlighting the fact that those with mental illness can recover to some sort of semi-normal life once they learn how to manage their PTSD effectively. Sometimes this goes hand in hand with having an employer that is willing to make it a little easier for employee's with mental illness, through down time and such labour reflections.

Many of the study participants were dependent on continuing treatment to maintain their positions, Russinova said. "These people haven't been cured. Eighty-eight percent of the study participants were taking psychotropic medications at the time of study. They had well-maintained, well-managed illness. Seventy-three percent were in some kind of psychotherapy at the time of study.

"These people made heavy use of the mental health system to maintain their working capacity," she added. "We asked these folks about the things that helped them succeed vocationally. The most important was consistent use of medications. Number two was the support of a spouse or significant other. Third was the support of a therapist. The list varies somewhat per diagnosis. The group with bipolar disorder had a higher percentage of people who were married or in a relationship. In other groups, medications and the support of a therapist were the most important factors contributing to success."

Of the 696 individuals who met the study criteria of both a serious psychiatric condition and sustained employment in the two years prior to enrolling in the study:

  • 74% were continuously employed for the entire two years;
  • 17% were employed for 18 of the 24 months;
  • 9% were employed for 12 to 18 of the 24 months;
  • 80% had at least one psychiatric hospitalization in the past;
  • 95% were taking psychotropic medications at the time of the study;
  • 74% were working 35 hours or more a week;
  • 53% had professional or technical jobs and 24% had managerial or administrative jobs;
  • 32% had total annual income of more than $40,000 and 38% had incomes of between $20,000 and $40,000;
  • 43% owned their own home; and
  • 42% lived with a spouse or significant other.
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