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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Department of Health and Human Services
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration

Last Updated: 6/22/2012

SAMHSA’s Resource Center to Promote Acceptance,
Dignity and Social Inclusion Associated with
Mental Health (ADS Center)


Understanding Employees and Job Applicants with Psychiatric Disabilities
San Francisco, California

Start Date

Brief Description
Understanding Employees and Job Applicants with Psychiatric Disabilities, released in 2008 by the People With Disabilities Foundation (PWDF), is a 30-minute educational video with an accompanying workbook. The video features real-life stories of people with psychiatric disabilities (e.g., bipolar disorder, paranoid schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder) who went through the process of securing accommodations on the job, and it presents these scenarios from the perspectives of both employers and employees. PWDF hopes that, through viewing the video, employers and persons with mental disabilities will be more informed of issues of accommodation in the workplace and of the rights of employees with mental disabilities.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about one in four adults in the United States are diagnosed with a mental disorder in any given year. Yet some employers are reluctant to hire persons with mental disabilities or are unsure how to respond to requests for accommodations from employees with psychiatric disabilities. Because of the myths surrounding persons with mental disabilities, some employers may overlook hiring capable individuals or may be unable to foster work environments encouraging those with psychiatric disabilities to stay employed.

The intent of this video is to provide concrete examples of common psychiatric disabilities, and the steps taken to legally accommodate them, from the perspective of both the employer and employee. The video is currently being marketed nationwide to human resources organizations, disability-related programs, vocational rehabilitation programs, and Federal agencies.

PWDF has received overwhelmingly positive responses to Understanding Employees and Job Applicants with Psychiatric Disabilities. The organization hopes to expand its distribution channels so that the video can reach the following target audiences: mental health consumers reentering the workplace, human resource managers, and other professionals involved in hiring decisions and employee management.

For more information about the Understanding Employees and Job Applicants with Psychiatric Disabilities video and accompanying workbook, contact Spencer Williams, Program Manager for Public Awareness and Education, People With Disabilities Foundation; 507 Polk Street, Suite 430, San Francisco, CA, 94102; phone: (415) 931-3070; e-mail:; Web site:


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This Web site was developed under contract with the Office of Consumer Affairs in SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services. The views, opinions, and content provided on this Web site do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or policies of SAMHSA or HHS. The resources listed in this Web site are not all-inclusive and inclusion on this Web site does not constitute an endorsement by SAMHSA or HHS.