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Office of Disability Employment Policy
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ODEP - Office of Disability Employment Policy

Disability Employment Policy Resources by Topic

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 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 employers’ disability-related policies and practices take into consideration the needs of people with mental health conditions. These include the following:

For educators and service providers, the ODEP-funded National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth also 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.

For state policymakers, the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law has published Getting to Work: Promoting Employment of People with Mental Illness, a report that describes the need for supported employment services, how these services work, the successful outcomes they secure, the cost savings that they enable states to realize, and the legal obligations that they help states fulfill. It also offers recommendations for states interested in expanding the availability of supported employment services for people with serious mental illness.