Try “not” living with mental illness

Here is an extract from the latest NAMI e-mail on pervasive unemployment amongst the mentally ill. NAMI’s statistics reveal that 80% of people living with a mental illness are unemployed.


While successful approaches such as supported employment have been around for nearly two decades, the staggering unemployment rate for adults living with mental illness remains a national disgrace. Integrated employment remains a key element of recovery despite substantial evidence on what is effective in helping individuals get and keep a job is unavailable in many parts of the country.

NAMI will present a symposium on July 8 featuring nationally recognized experts on supported employment and innovative agencies that have successfully placed people living with mental illness in jobs and continue to assist them keep those jobs. Speaking at this important session is Tony Zipple, the executive director of Thresholds. As a leader and innovator in rehabilitation, Thresholds has served as a model for other agencies. Hundreds of agencies and others in the United States and abroad have adopted parts of the Thresholds program.

Joining Dr. Zipple are Deborah Becker and Dr. Robert Drake, co-directors of the Dartmouth IPS Supported Employment Center. Individual Placement and Support (IPS) supported employment is an evidence-based practice that assists people living with severe mental illness in returning to return to work. Compared to other vocational approaches, people who utilize IPS are almost three times more likely to find a regular job in the community than people who participate in other types of employment programs.

If you’re unable to join us in Chicago, don’t worry! We will feature comprehensive daily updates from the convention on as well as on Facebook and Twitter.
You have to be in good mental shape to be a candidate for the competitive job market and to hold down a job. If a patient is not able to work in a competitive job market, they are not sufficiently recovered/reconstructed/constructed. (See comments to earlier post.) If the statistics are as dismal as NAMI claims, one must ask, why aren’t these people in good enough shape to seek employment? For many of us, our first instinct is to say “it’s the drugs that stop people from working!” To me, the answer may be found by challenging the prevailing view of “severe mental illness” as mainly a medical problem. Assistance has been directed towards seeing the person as a patient/consumer of services rather than an individual with a unique story. Being an adult “living with mental illness” (today’s version of what recovery means) obviously isn’t helping people earn a paycheque.

13 thoughts on “Try “not” living with mental illness”

  1. I loathe NAMI.

    And, yes, I completely agree with you! If we insist on adhering to the medical model and keep throwing medical treatments at our “illnesses”…well, yeah, that’s obviously working quite brilliantly for us as a society, isn’t it?

    For me, having supports such as Empower have been key in my reconstruction (I really do prefer that to recovery now!) – but the things that help me get at the core and actually heal the original damage and trauma…these are the things from which my reconstruction is born. EFT is top on my list, along with meditation, yoga, etc….things that would make the NAMI folk roll their terrible eyes and gnash their terrible teeth and call me crazy.

    Ah, well, the joke’s on them – as more and more of us wake up and sound the alarm, fewer people will be willing to drink their kool-aid!

  2. Rossa,

    I work with blind people in the area of employment services (in private practice).

    The unemployment rate for blind people in the United States is 70 percent. IMO, 70 percent unemployment for blind people is completely unnacceptable.

    IMO, it’s outrageous that the unemployment level for people with “severe mental illness” is 80 percent!

    People need to be educated in the various types of technology that can assist blind people. Employers are often fearful, not sure where to start, etc…

    What is it with “severe mental illness” that has created this statistic?

    IMO, it’s caused by inhumane “medical treatment”, to include –

    a) Psychiatric labels that frighten all parties, particularly, those given the labels!)

    b) Psychiatric “hospitalizations”, which are nothing short of incarcerations without due process of law. They traumatize people in these places. They are barbaric!

    c) Drugging the human brain into oblivion to mask “symptoms”

    d) Insisting the patient “accept” their “lifelong, incurable brain disorder”

    People don’t get well, given such “treatment!”

    NAMI “grades the states” on the amount of psychiatric hospitals they have, and the number of diagnosed people who are receiving “proper treatment.”

    And NAMI wonders why there is an 80 percent unemploymnet rate?

    A wake-up call to NAMI…
    It’s not “treatment”.

    Friends don’t let friends join NAMI!

    Duane Sherry, M.S.


    Integrated employment remains a key element of recovery”

    Nope! More to the point: Baloney!

    A recovered/cured person is whatever any person in the world could be – a layabout, gadfly, bum, eccentric, anti-social curmudgeon, or perhaps industrious workaholic… whatever.

    Recovered is just recovered – it means an emotional-mental problem has been resolved, Whatever the human does with it is whatever humans can do.

    Now ,if I were a Biomed profiteering new age style Soul Butchering Hun Attila – I would try to get a few of my drugified zombies to act as Poster Propaganda. I would teach them in a Pavlovian manner to act somewhat like human beings to pretend everything was all OK and hunky-dory.Surround them with an atmosphere of happy face fascism tell them to smile and not to frown etc. and fit them into social activities with employment with tons of support and encouragement and social props.
    Then having achieved the outer veneer of seemingly what humans do -, I would point to them and say – See Look! Recovered! How Wonderful they are!
    And it would be just for those few that can be used as propaganda – too much expense to do it for everybody.

    Employment could be used as part of a therapeutic program, if the therapeutic program actually exists, every case is unique. For some people regular activity of a low stress job is quite useful as they also engage in therapeutic activities. And not working, it depends how the time is spent and on the person – it could be a necessary respite or it could be psychosis provoking.

    Basically employment is an outer process, recovery is an inner process, one can affect the other but it is baloney to say one IS the other. Engaging in one does not necessarily mean engaging in the other.

    The whole problem or treatment is that within society we have many people, not necessarily mentally ill, with a limited inner life or no inner growth themselves (includes many psychiatrists unfortunately) doing things by rote under authoritarianism attempting to treat the mentally ill with no understanding of the inner life. Thus we get the idea of controlling people parents , psychiatrists, authorities, and the idea of treating symptoms only – get them drugged and “working” and Hey! they almost look like real people – but inside they aren’t.
    It’s the fake recovery.
    The reason for this dearth of inner life does not come from family or community experience – it comes from outside – transmitted through schools, workplace and state media (MSM) controlled by ruthless, monopolist business and political interests.

    Helping someone with mental illness to work can be quite useful, it can help the quality of their life as they are existing currently.
    I knew a guy worked in a shipping room – he was obviously drugged (face splotches from meds and quite inhibited) , said openly he took meds, and he fit right in with the rest of us – no big deal . Management liked him, he was always on time and lasted longer than the regular turnover – it was the first thing I thought – they probably like this guy because he is reliable. I think, but I’m not sure – a family member my have helped him get the job.

    Those stats didn’t say how many were medicated (perhaps over-medicated?) or how many had supportive families and supportive to what end (personal growth or anti-growth).

  4. I wholeheartedly agree with Skyblue. This is much more complex than placing people in one or the other — often somewhat stupid, monotonous — job, and hurray!, they’re recovered.

    A friend of mine got a job as a guard at a museum through a program like the one NAMI talks about. The thing is, my friend is a math genius. Not a John Nash maybe, but well, you know, really interested in it, and really good at it. So, exactly how excited was he, who’d been studying at university, before he got labelled, about the job at the museum? And especially also about being told he ought to be oh so ever grateful for this opportunity, since he wouldn’t be able to do anything more intellectually challenging anyway, because of this thing that had hit him called “schizophrenia”? Well, not at all. He was booored. He was bored, and, although he to a certain extent had bought into the mainstream paradigm, something inside him also felt deeply insulted. And righteously so. They’d added insult to injury.

    What at first glance may look like an empowering “go for it, you can!” message in truth often is a covered-up “forget it, you can’t anyway, no matter how hard you try!” message, and has nothing, absolutely nothing to do with recovery. And my friend “got the message”, so to speak. Never mind that he, thanks to the “meds” he was on, did have difficulty keeping himself awake during work hours, this difficulty got anything but alleviated by the boredom and insult that accompanied the job as a museum guard in his case. So, eventually he gave up, and went on disability.

    Another, maybe even more interesting such story is the guy who lost his driver’s licenses, private and business, 3 years ago, due to speeding (no accident, no harm done), and now that he, in theory, has the chance to get back both licenses, with the ultimate prospect of being able to make an independent living once again, is told by the authorities that one or the other “expert” in the system, who never met our guy, doesn’t recommend for him to ever get a business driver’s license again, and that he only ought to be given a temporary private license, and this only under the condition that he agrees to receive psych treatment for his “mental illness”, this time with long-acting injections, to make as sure as possible he doesn’t get in a car and drives off without being sufficiently doped up first… Yes, our guy has a psych label, and he’s been doing fine, just fine, during the past years, no re-hospitalizations or anything, thanks to other than psychiatric help, which he had the cheekiness to drop out of because it did nothing but made him fat and stoopid, for his emotional problems. God forbid that those loonies get a real chance for recovery! That they succeed taking their lives into their own hands, independent from the system! We need to keep them under control, doped up over their eyeballs, and then placed in some “supported employment” garbage job. Voilà, that’s recovery! NOT! Made possible by a close collaboration between the psych system, social services, and the police here in Denmark. Kinda reminds me of those times when people got a stamp in their passport that said something like “insane”. All the while everybody is busy shouting each other down about the need to remove the stigma from “mental illness”…

    This whole supported employment garbage is nothing but that, garbage, a scam. Just like about everything else that comes from the system’s quarter.

  5. Everybody’s made excellent points. Chris ran in to a friend from the day program yesterday. His friend is now a monk in Italy. In the day program, I felt that the work offered, while well-intentioned, put otherwise very bright, sensitive people in the position of suddenly finding themselves in a shelered workshop. It depressed me a lot, imagine what it did to the people who were expected to be there. But, there are no hard and fast answers.

  6. Rossa,

    A psychiatrist recently put a post up that said the sucide rate for people with “borderline personality disorder” is ten percent.

    Ten percent?

    The NIMH says that 2 percent of the population has Borderline Personality Disorder.

    That would account for approximately 6 million people with “BPD.”

    If the suicide rate were ten percent, it would mean that 600,000 suicides with this group.

    The TOTAL number of suicides in the United States is approximately 30,000 – for the entire population.

    Once again, the math is off.
    In fact, it’s way off!

    We see the NIMH, E.Fuller Torrey, and a host of academics continue to say that “bipolar disorder,” is ten percent.

    Once again, the math is off.
    It’s way off.

    Psychiatry is not based on science.
    And its fear tactics are not based on accurate statistics.

    There isn’t much accuracy in the “profession”
    In fact, there is NO accuracy in the profession!

    I get disgusted to read that a person is a “borderline”, or a “bipolar”….

    Which is why I like to call these so-called professionals, these wanna-be doctors by a name that seems to suit them.


    Duane Sherry, M.S.

  7. When Chris first was hospitalized, and when he went through the day program, the drugs were justified by veiled references to the suicide rate within the first five years of schizophrenia. To me they were using scare tactics to justify the drugs. It made me feel that I was taking chances with Chris’s life if I didn’t go along with the drugs. In short, I felt terrible either way. Now, it’s true that some people do kill themselves, and there was many a time I worried about Chris, but I also orried about his state of mind when he was on the drugs. If he killed himself while on the drugs, then I guess I would be told that it’s “just one of those things.” Actually, Chris never struck me as depressed, but you never really know. And the drugs are used as some sort of “insurance policy.” People often pay for insurance they don’t need.

  8. Rossa,

    Psychiatry continues to use these scare tactics, and of course, suicide rates are at the top of the list in justifying their “treatments.”

    The statistics are repeated again-and-again, in pscyhiatry’s journals, throughout their propaganda….

    I often wonder if any of these Bozos raise their hand in class while in medical school, and are bold enough to ask a good question…

    In this case, “Where does that statistic come from?” Followed by, “The suicide rate cannot be ten percent… The math doesn’t work!”

    What a mind-less bunch!
    What a sociopathic bunch!

    What a bunch of Bozos!
    … A dangerous bunch of BOZOS!

    Duane Sherry, M.S.

  9. I believe that those who do attempt or complete suicide undertake the act in a moment of clarity. Their assessment of their prospects in life are hopeless and in this state of desperation they decide their life is not worth living.

    I suggest that the influences of psychiatry, psychiatric drugs, and the altered relationships of their family members are all significant factors in the individual’s contextual assessment of his or her life.

  10. Anonymous,

    I agree with the second paragraph of your comment, but as I read the first statement, I disagree.

    In the sense, that I don’t think it’s “clarity”… I think that they are too close to their own “assessment” to see it clearly.

    IMO, suicide is caused by a sense of hopelessness.


    That’s what’s needed in the mental health system.

    There’s plenty of hope in the “recovery” movement, and with integrative medicine.

    And there is very little hope in the conventional approach.

    There needs to be a paradigm shift in “treatment.”

    It’s time for hope!

    Duane Sherry

  11. Rossa,

    Three self-proclaimed “shrinks” have a new blog on Psychology Today, called ‘Shrink Rap Today.’

    They have put up a survey to find out what attitudes people have toward psychiatry –

    If you or any of your readers would like the opportunity to have your voices heard…
    Also, you can leave a comment on the post itself.

    As you might have guessed, I left a couple of comments… Couldn’t pass up the opportunity!

    Duane Sherry

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