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What services help people with mental health impairment return to employment?

Evaluating supported employment

The percentage of people receiving disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA) for a mental health impairment is increasing. In 2005, SSA selected Westat to lead the Mental Health Treatment Study (MHTS), which found that supported employment services integrated with behavioral health treatment and systematic medication management helped disability beneficiaries with mental health impairments return to work, improve their health, and lower their hospital utilization.

About half of citizens who apply for Social Security disability benefits are denied. Many of these individuals continue to experience health issues and employment problems, and they later successfully apply for benefits. As a result, what happens to denied applicants and whether evidence-based services could help them represents a major public policy issue.

Building on the success of the MHTS, SSA chose Westat to lead the Supported Employment Demonstration. This demonstration aims to study the effects of offering the same services to people with mental impairments who were recently denied Social Security disability benefits.

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