Psychiatric Disabilities: The Role of the Rehabilitation Counselor
A rehabilitation counselor is the central coordinator of setting up services and the client’s goals. They help develop and enhance the client’s skills to secure independence, employment and function in the community (Garske, 2003). In order to be able to rehabilitate the client and set up obtainable goals and a treatment plan, the rehabilitation counselor must first understand ADA, the client’s functional limitations, challenges and obstacles they are facing, along with barriers that may pose a threat to the success of the client. Rehabilitation counselors also set up a support network the client can reach out to and utilize, as well as resources and accommodations that may help the client transition into the workforce, school or home.
There are many challenges and obstacles that individuals with a psychiatric disability face and as a rehabilitation counselor one must find ways to overcome those obstacles and help guide the client. According to Gregory Garske (2003), “those with severe mental illness or a psychiatric disability have an extremely low success rate and are the most challenging group to rehabilitate” (p. 95). One of the largest subpopulations of disabilities with the lowest success rate did not go unnoticed and changes were made in 1992 when the amendments of the Rehabilitation Act were passed. The 1992 amendments paved the way for future growth and ensured that those with the most severe disability that limited one or more life functions received more assistance (Garske, 2003). What is disturbing is that even though those with a psychiatric disability are seeking services the success rate is only half compared to those with a physical disability.
Unemployment Level/Job Retention
It is appalling to think that “85% of the 4 to 5 million Americans with a psychiatric disability are unemployed” (Garske, 2003, p. 95). The 1992 amendments were set into place to improve these numbers. However, over a decade has gone by and there are still barriers that have not been broken down. Many employers will not employ someone with a psychiatric disability thus resulting in “underemployment of the subpopulation with only one third of individuals being competitively employed at one time” (Schutt & Hursh, 2009, p.53-54). Job retention has also become a growing concern because meaningful employment has been difficult to quantify. In addition to the majority of the psychiatric disability population being unemployed, those that are employed “work entry-level job positions with low pay and little chance of advancement leading to limited opportunities for improvement in the quality of their lives” (Ackerman & McReynolds, 2005, p. 36). “Job retention is an important psychosocial goal, which is not often achieved” (Schutt et al., 2009, p.53). “The main reason individuals with psychiatric disabilities leave jobs...