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Chartbook on Mental Health and Disability

Section 2: Characteristics of disability in adult life

2.4. To what extent are people with mental illness employed?

In four nationally representative surveys conducted between 1989 and 1998, people with any mental illness had lower employment rates (48% to 73%) than people who did not report mental illness (76% to 87%). Employment rates for people who reported serious mental illness were even lower, ranging from 32% to 61%. Among those with serious mental illness who had schizophrenia and related disorders, employment rates ranged from 22% to 40%.

Analysis of the NHIS-D shows that employed people with mental illness worked in a range of occupational categories similar to those of people with no mental illness. Among people with mental illness, as in the general population, educational attainment was the strongest predictor of employment in high-level occupations.

People with any mental illness are employed at lower rates than people with no mental illness; rates for people with serious mental illness are even lower.

Figure 10 (see data table for text-only version)

Figure 10: Percentage employed among adults with and without mental illness in 4 nationally representative surveys, 1989-98

Source: Mechanic, Bilder, & McAlpine (2002)

Surveys: NHIS-Mental Health Supplement, 1989; National Comorbidity Survey (NCS), 1990-92; NHIS-D, 1994-95; Healthcare for Communities, 1997-98

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