DIAGNOSIS: Schizophrenia and Other Severe Mental Illnesses
TREATMENT: Supported Employment for Schizophrenia

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Brief Summary

Supported Employment for Schizophrenia

Status: Strong Research Support


Supported Employment (SE; also known as Individual Placement and Support) is an approach to vocational rehabilitation (VR) adapted for individuals with serious mental illness. Supported employment emphasizes the integration of employment and mental health services, rapid placement of individuals into jobs in the community, individualized job development, and ongoing job supports. Rather than segregating vocational rehabilitation and mental health services, supported employment specialists are part of the client’s treatment team. The goal of supported employment is to assist the person with schizophrenia in attaining competitive, community-based employment. As compared to more traditional VR approaches for this population (e.g. clubhouse models, transitional employment), the community-based nature of SE facilitates transfer of skills into real-world work settings, directly builds relationships with employers, and provides more naturalistic opportunities to identify the client’s interests and strengths.


Key References (in reverse chronological order)

  • Lehman. A.F.; Goldberg R.W.; Dixon, L.B.; McNary, S.; Postrado, L.; Hackman, A.; and McDonnell, K. Improving employment outcomes for persons with severe mental illnesses. Archives of General Psychiatry. 59(2):165-72, 2002.
  • Bond, G.R.; Dietzen, LL.; McGrew, J.H.; and Miller, LD. Accelerating entry into suppported employment for persons with severe psychiatric disabilities. Rehabilitation Psychology. 40(2): 75-95, 1995.
  • Bond, G.R.; Drake, R.E.; Meuser, K.T.; and Becker, D.R. An update on supported employment for People with severe mental illness. Psychiatric Services. 48(3): 335-346, 1997.
  • Bond, G.R.; Drake, R.E.; Becker, D.R.; and Mueser, K.T. Effectiveness of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Approaches for Employment of People with Severe Mental Illness. Journal of Disability Policy Studies, 10(1): 18-52, 1999.
  • Drake, R.E.; Becker D.R.; Biesanz, J.C.; Torrey, W.C.; McHugo, G.J.; Wyzik, P.F. Rehabilitative day treatment vs. supported employment: I. Vocational outcomes. Community Mental Health Journal, 30(5):519-32, 1994.
  • Drake, R.E.; Becker D.R., Biesanz, J.C.; Wyzik, P.F.; Torrey, W.C. Day treatment versus supported employment for persons with severe mental illness: a replication study.Psychiatric Services, 47(10):1125-7, 1996.
  • Drake, R.E.; McHugo, G.J.; Bebout, R.R.; Becker, D.R; Harris, M.; Bond, G.R.; Quimby E. A randomized clinical trial of supported employment for inner-city patients with severe mental disorders. Archives of General Psychiatry, 56(7):627-33, 1999.

Clinical Resources

  • Becker, D.R. & Drake, R.E. (2003). A Working Life for People With Severe Mental Illness. New York: Oxford University Press

Training Opportunities

  • SAMHSA (2003, draft) Supported employment implementation resource kit: Information for practitioners and clinical supervisors.

Treatment Resources

Note: The resources provided below are intended to supplement not replace foundational training in mental health treatment and evidence-based practice