Employing persons with serious mental illness

David Mechanic, Scott Bilder, Donna D McAlpine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

136 Scopus citations


Data from various national surveys find that approximately half the population with mental disorders is gainfully employed across the entire range of occupations; such persons have an employment rate of about two-thirds that of the general population. More than a third of persons with serious mental illness also work, and many hold high-status positions. Amongthose with schizophrenia, a diagnosis associated with high impairment, only slightly more than a fifth are at work, and 12 percent are working full time. Approximately two-thirds are enrolled in federal disability insurance programs. Our analyses indicate considerable diversity of jobs among persons with various mental disorders. Most persons with mental illness want to work, and some with even the most serious mental disorders hold jobs requiring high levels of functioning. Educational attainment is the strongest predictor of employment in high-ranking occupations among both the general population and persons with mental disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)242-253
Number of pages12
JournalHealth Affairs
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2002


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