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Office of Disability Employment Policy
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ODEP - Office of Disability Employment Policy - Driving Change Creating Opportunity

Mental Health

Nearly one in five Americans may experience some form of mental illness each year. For many of these individuals (and many without mental health conditions as well), work is key to their health, contributing to a sense of purpose and wellbeing. Thus, it's important that employers understand how to foster a mental health-friendly work culture.

But employees are not the only ones to benefit from such a work culture. Workplace practices inclusive of people with disabilities—whether they happen to be obvious to the eye or not—can deliver numerous bottom-line advantages, including greater productivity, reduced insurance costs, and improved employee retention and morale. Furthermore, by sending a clear message about their company's commitment to an inclusive workplace, Federal contractors covered by Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act may encourage people with mental health conditions to self-identify as people with disabilities.

A number of resources are available to help ensure that disability-related policies and practices in the workplace take into consideration the needs of people with mental health conditions. These include the following:

Employers

Individuals

Service Providers

Policymakers

Youth

  • For educators and service providers, the ODEP-funded National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth provides numerous resources to assist in meeting the needs of youth with mental health conditions transitioning from school to adulthood and the world of work.
  • Transitions ACR: Resources and research to promote full participation in socially valued roles of transition-age youth and young adults with serious mental health conditions. Transitions to Adulthood Center for Research is a Research and Training Center located at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
  • Adapting Supported Employment for Emerging Adults with Serious Mental Health Conditions: An article from the Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research regarding effective services that are needed to assist young people with serious mental health conditions to successfully transition to employment or education.