May 2019, Vol. 5, No. 4
RAISE The Standard Newsletter
Raising the Standard for Young Adults with Disabilities
Technical Assistance and Resources for RSA-funded
Parent Training and Information Centers
Surviving and Thriving logo

Psychiatric disabilities — attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety disorder, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia — come into play in the workplace and higher education because they are very common and very misunderstood. More than 44 million adults in the US. report having had a mental health condition during the past year – that is more than 18 percent of the US population or nearly one in five people. This makes psychiatric disabilities one of the most common types of disability covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Employees and students with mental illness might need accommodations in areas such as:

  • Attentiveness and concentration
  • Control of anger and emotions
  • Decreased stamina and fatigue
  • Executive function deficits
  • Managing time
  • Memory loss
  • Organizing, planning and prioritizing
  • Sleeping and staying awake
  • Stress intolerance

Read more about these limitations and the kinds of accommodation, services and strategies that might be needed in the workplace at the Job Accommodation Network (JAN).

Nearly 8 million listeners have heard Sabrina Benaim on Button Poetry recite “Explaining My Depression to My Mother.” Her passion and honesty will leave you breathless.

“Mom, my depression is like a shapeshifter. One day It's as small as a firefly in the palm of a bear, the next it's the bear.”

We love The Excelano Project, a spoken word mental health awareness and empowerment effort from the University of Pennsylvania featuring youth with mental health challenges.

“Tomorrow will come again, I promise.”

This stigma-busting 3-minute video offers perspectives and experiences from youth living with mental health issues.

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Transition to Adult Services

Are your students ready to transition to the adult care system? Learning to manage mental health care is an important skill.

That is why we love this quiz developed by to help youth determine whether they are ready for the transition to the adult health care system:

Classroom Learning to Teach Workplace Skills

Workplace behavior can be learned, but it must be TAUGHT. We love these 6 simple lessons from Realityworks designed to help educators teach workplace cooperation, teamwork, time management, problem solving and communication skills.

Illustration of a young man sitting on the floor with a number of worrying thought bubbles surrounding him
Mental Health Issues at Work:
Functional Limitations & Legal Protections

Functional Limitations: The Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation on Reasonable Workplace Accommodations for People with Psychiatric Disabilities found that the most common functional limitations for employees with mental illness involved:

  • Interacting with others – interviewing for the job, describing strengths and weaknesses, clarifying instructions, asking for help, starting conversations with coworkers;
  • Learning the job – remembering the routine, following instructions, learning new tasks;
  • Maintaining work stamina/pace – working 3 hours without breaks, standing for long periods, taking scheduled breaks, completing tasks in allotted times, managing time;
  • Managing symptoms/tolerating stress – relaxing, recognizing stressors, managing negative feelings, managing internal distractions.

Read more here about how mental illness might affect work performance.

Legal Protections: Many laws protect employees with mental health challenges, whether you need reasonable accommodations and modifications, or a few weeks off from work to cope with a psychiatric crisis.

1. The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows an employee to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in the event of an illness or to help care for a family member who is sick while preserving your job placement and benefits. To qualify for FMLA, you must work a minimum of 12 months for the same employer. The FMLA only applies to employers with more than 50 employees. Click here to learn more.

2. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects employees with disabilities, including those with mental illness. While an employee must be able to perform the essential tasks of the job, they are entitled to reasonable accommodations (changes made to company procedures/rules) that will help increase and maintain job performance. Examples of accommodations include but are not limited to:

  • Flexible work schedules or start times;
  • Reduced distractions or noise in the work area;
  • Working from home or telecommuting;
  • Written directions and task lists;
  • Regular written or verbal feedback;
  • Flexible break schedule;
  • Private, quiet space to rest during a break;
  • Use of a job coach.

Image of a person's head colored with bright watercolor brush marks
Mental Health Issues In College – Transition Tips and Accommodations

Tips for college-bound students

  1. Be sure you are familiar with the local or campus health center and counseling center (hours of operation, services offered, fees, location) and what to do if the center is closed (nights and weekends). Make sure you have your insurance card and know how to use it.
  2. If you have a chronic health condition, make sure a roommate or someone close to you knows about your health condition, signs of problems, and what to do in an emergency situation. Consider having your treating physician send a report with your current status and treatment report to the health center. If your problem is particularly complex or challenging, consider talking with or meeting with a health center staff member before the academic year starts.
  3. Studies have shown that the majority of students on campus don’t use drugs and either don’t drink or do so in moderation. So you don’t need to do either one to fit in. Drinking excessively can open you up to significant health risks (accidents, fights, date rape/sexual assault).
  4. Find out what resources are available to support you. Often there are support groups and student services available to help address the transition to work or college. And don’t forget about your family…they want to hear how you are doing!
  5. It’s normal for someone starting at college or moving to a new place to have days when they feel sad, homesick, or a bit lost. If these feelings last for more than a week or so or are interfering with your ability to work or enjoy your college experience, seek help. The health center or counseling center is the best place to start.

- From American Academy of Pediatrics
Considering Accommodations

Before they can choose an appropriate college, teens need to consider, ideally with the help of parents, a guidance counselor, teachers, pediatrician, and/or psychologist, which services or accommodations they may need in their new life as an undergraduate. Designed for the needs of students with ADHD, these tip sheets – offered in both English and Spanish – can help shape the discussion and planning for students with a range of mental health challenges.

Asking for Workplace Accommodations

If you need an accommodation, the first step is to ask. These tips from NAMI remind us that it is up to the individual to request an accommodation. Once you have submitted a request, an employer is required to sit down and talk with you about possible accommodations. Before you get started:

  1. Ask your employer's human resources (HR) department how to request accommodation. A request process may already be in place.
  2. Decide what types of accommodations you need. Be specific. Be ready to explain how the accommodation will help you to perform your job.
  3. Put your request in writing.
  4. Talk with your treatment provider and ask if they can provide documentation. Your doctor can write a note, usually in the form of a letter, stating that you have mental illness and need accommodation. It may be helpful to share guidance on workplace accommodations with your provider.
  5. Take detailed notes and keep a written record of any conversations you have with the employer. Keep copies of any emails you send and any forms you complete.
  6. Negotiate. Be flexible and ready to discuss your options.

Active Minds is a nonprofit organization supporting mental health awareness and education for students.

Pathways RTC aims to improve the lives of youth and young adults with serious mental health conditions through research and effective training and information dissemination.

Minding Your Mind seeks to provide mental health education to adolescents, teens and young adults, their parents, teachers and school administrators. Their goal is to reduce the stigma and destructive behaviors often associated with mental health issues.

JED Foundation is a nonprofit with the mission to protect emotional health and prevent suicide for our nation’s teens and young adults.

Strength of Us is an online community designed to inspire young adults impacted by mental health issues to think positive, stay strong and achieve goals through peer support and resource sharing.

Josie Badger in graduation cap and gown.
Significantly Able to Work: Employment for the Significantly Disabled

This month, RAISE Center’s Director, Josie Badger, shares her perspectives about meaningful work for those with significant disabilities. Josie is President and Founder of J. Badger Consulting, Inc., which provides disability and transition consulting services in the state of Pennsylvania and nationally.

“For me, the most difficult part of my job is not the actual work, but figuring out how to work without losing my life-sustaining services. Obtaining and maintaining services can take as much time as a part-time or full-time job. Between the paperwork, research, doctors’ appointments, phone calls, and research, it can be quite daunting to pursue employment.”

Conferences and Webinars
June 13-15, 2019
Mental Health America
2019 Annual Conference “Dueling Diagnoses: Mental Health and Chronic Conditions in Children and Adults
Washington. D.C.

November 14-16, 2019
Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health
30th Annual Conference
Phoenix Arizona
Supported Employment Program

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS), published a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for the Transforming Lives through Supported Employment grants. The program will support state and community efforts to refine, implement, and sustain evidence-based supported employment programs and mutually compatible and supportive evidence-based practices for transition-aged youth/young adults (ages 16-25) with serious emotional disturbance (SED), and adults with serious mental illness (SMI) or co-occurring mental and substance use disorders (COD). SAMHSA expects that this program will increase state and community capacity to implement and sustain Supported Employment Program (SEP) models and integrated supports to improve competitive employment outcomes for individuals with SED, SMI, or COD.

Collaboration • Empowerment • Capacity-building

RAISE The Standard enewsletter identifies and shares resources that the Rehabilitation Services Administration Parent Training and Information Centers (RSA-PTI) can use and share with families.
Executive Editor:
Peg Kinsell
Visit our Website:
RAISE, the National Resources for Access, Independence, Self-Advocacy and Employment is a user-centered technical assistance center that understands the needs and assets of the RSA-PTIs, coordinates efforts with the Technical Assistance provided by PTI centers and involves RSA-PTIs as key advisors and partners in all product and service development and delivery.
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RAISE is funded by the US Department of Education to provide technical assistance to, and coordination of, the 7 PTI centers (RSA-PTIs). It represents collaboration between the nation's two Parent Technical Assistance Centers (PTAC) and the seven Regional PTACs.