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'Bleak picture' for mentally ill: 80% are jobless

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Mentally ill joblessEighty percent of people with mental illness are unemployed, a statistic that says more about the lack of support for this group of people than it does about the economy, according to a new study.

As in so many other areas of mental health, solutions to this problem exist, but simply aren't utilized, says Mary Giliberti, executive director of NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

"These statistics paint a pretty bleak picture," she says. "We think we can do a lot better."

About 60% of people with mental illness want to work. And two-thirds can successfully hold down a job, if they're given appropriate support, the report says. Yet fewer than 2% of people in the public mental health system receive this help, a cost-effective program called supported employment, which has been studied in 20 high-quality clinical trials over the past 25 years.

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