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Cutler, Disabilty and Aging


Employment for people with serious and persistent mental illness (SPMI) is a complex issue impacted by numerous factors. Research studies have documented how integral employment is to recovery; nonetheless, employment rates among this population remain low. Additional studies have documented the barriers to achieving successful employment outcomes, yet resolving these barriers remains a compelling challenge. Compounding this, the national economic recession has brought unemployment rates to extremely high levels for everyone. Maine is faring a bit better than the national average but Maine’s unemployment rate has increased each of the last three years to its current 8.1 % level. Coupled with this, the state’s budget crisis has resulted in cutbacks in services to vulnerable citizens. It is in this context that Maine’s Office of Adult Mental Health Services is working to address the obstacles to employment for persons with SPMI served through the public mental health system.

Late in 2009, OAMHS asked the Muskie School of Public Service to review qualitative and quantitative data and other sources to determine the array of employment services needed for persons with severe and persistent mental illness (SPMI), the resources currently available and potential solutions to obstacles. This report documents the progress OAMHS has made between 2006- 2009 and offers possible next steps.