OVAE: Office of Vocational and Adult Education
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Mental Health Disabilities
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Research and Evaluation | Noteworthy Practices | Additional Links

According to the 2002 President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, in their report to the President, states "about 5-7 percent of adults, in a given year, have a serious mental illness, according to several nationally representative studies."

The Commission also states: "Serious mental illness" is a term used in federal regulations for any diagnosable mental disorder that affects work, home, or other areas of social functioning. The annual prevalence figures translate into millions of adults and children disabled by mental illness.

When compared with all other diseases (such as cancer and heart disease), mental illness ranks first in terms of causing disability in the United States, Canada, and Western Europe, according to a study by the World Health Organization. This study found that mental illness (including depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia) accounts for 25% of all disability…. In the US, the economy's loss of productivity from mental illness amounts to $63 billion annually."

Research and Evaluation

  • Mental Health and the Adult Refugee: The Role of the ESL Teacher. National Center for ESL Literacy Education Digest focuses on how teachers can help adult refugee and immigrant learners make significant progress in adjusting to a new life.

  • President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health Final Report: The President's 2002 Commission conducted a comprehensive study of the mental health service delivery system. The Commission recommended fundamentally transforming how care is delivered in America.

  • Frequently Asked Questions by Educators about Students with Psychiatric Disabilities: Tips and Resources on the Rehabilitation Act, ADA, Academic Adjustments, and Support0. [downloadable files] PDF (83 KB) Boston University, Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation, Boston, MA.

  • The mission of the National Institute of Mental Health is to diminish the burden of mental illness through research.

Noteworthy Practices

  • Mental Health Association of South Central Kansas. Part of the Village Integrated Service Agency model that empowers and supports adults with serious mental illness.Sponsors supported education activities, including obtaining a GED.

  • University of Michigan Supported Education Program offers services to mental health consumers to help them prepare for education beyond high school including coping with a psychiatric disability in an educational setting.

  • Village Integrated Services Agency (CA) provides comprehensive services to people with mental illness, including earning a GED, college studies, and remedial classes. The agency has received state and national recognition.

  • Learning for Life: A Longitudinal Study of Pennsylvania's Adult Education Success Stories Recipients [downloadable files] PDF (902 KB) Analyzes the educational, employment and social attainments of adult students who successfully completed basic skills training in Pennsylvania.

  • Review of Best Practices in Mental Health Reform is Canadian government report that sets key elements for determining a promising practice.

Additional Links

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Last Modified: 03/23/2009