Boston University College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences: Sargent College:
Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation

Boston University College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences: Sargent College:
Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation

Supports for Job Keeping


What are the typical supports a person with a psychiatric disability would need to keep a job?

The “employee” may need supports to help with job retention in a new job or after being in the job for a while. Post employment supports might include:

  • Problem-solving difficult situations or changes in the work environment or the job itself
  • Resolving conflicts with supervisors or coworkers
  • Learning how to set limits
  • Learning how to understand the demands of the work environment
  • Ensuring the employee has the necessary treatment supports according to his/her particular needs
  • Ensuring the employee can manage finances, get taxes done, save money when possible
  • Having good accommodations when needed

Some of these supports are directly related to job retention, others are indirectly related to job retention, but all are important.

Who is responsible for helping my family member keep the job?

The Employment Specialist should be a key person in helping to ensure both soft and hard skills are developing and the employee is secure in the job.

However, in some cases the professional services have ended or reduced and the employee needs others to help. This might be family, co-workers, peers or friends providing this support. Peer mentors or Peer specialists can be excellent supporters for the ongoing skills education or support for job keeping.

At times the employee may be having problems that interfere with job duties and the employer may suggest the Employee Assistance Program if there is one.

In some situations, such as through the state vocational rehabilitation program or the Ticket to Work, a Job Coach may be hired specifically to work one-on-one with an employee. This is not an unlimited service and the Job Coach reduces time gradually.

What about the need for ongoing tangible support, emotional support?

Consumers benefit from the expertise their families bring to the process, their commitment to their welfare, and the personal family networks that lead to job opportunities.
– 26th Institute on Rehabilitation Issues

Families may need to be available periodically or continuously to help ensure the job is retained.

People in recovery do not typically move to complete independence very quickly. Although independence may be the goal, it is generally reached by taking deliberate steps rather than leaps. The emotional support is needed long term and practical support may continue to be needed, depending on the circumstances. Your family member might need help with using the computer, completing tax returns, or even for looking for a new job when the current one is no longer working out.

For those whose families are no longer available to them, sometimes the workplace becomes another family and the emotional and practical needs are fulfilled in the “work family.”

Is transportation an issue with job retention?

Transportation is frequently essential to job retention.

If your family member lives in an area where public transportation can get him/her to work, that is excellent. Often there are resources/people who can teach someone with a disability how to use the public transportation, including the public transport company itself (see Chicago’s RTA for an example). Sometimes friends or family can be the teachers.

Public transportation that is complex and lengthy can exhaust the family member and in those situations, there might need to be some compromises such as getting help for part of the distance and taking the bus/subway the rest of the way.

In some cities throughout the U.S. there is paratransit (DOT) for the disabled and this can include people with mental health conditions. Vehicles will pick up and deliver riders in towns where there is public transportation but it is not accessible to someone due to the disability. Usually a fee is charged that is lower than a taxi would be. These arrangements are not without problems (e.g. vehicle is late, forgets someone, or the ride is extremely long due to the multiple riders) but for some people, the paratransit is an invaluable resource.

Carpools are another possibility and this would generally be through the employer, although the internet may have sites that can be tapped for carpooling. In certain seasons and locations, employees can get to work by walking or bicycling (or even skateboarding for the younger generation).

If travel training is needed, the individual should discuss it the Employment Specialist or Case Manager if one exists.

Return to the main page on helping your family member Keep a Job.

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