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For Immediate Release: August 29, 2001
Reprinted from the 2001 DMS Digest
Contact: DMS Communications (603) 650-1492
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DMS Collaborates with Johnson & Johnson

A pioneering Dartmouth Medical School program that helps people with mental illness find work in New Hampshire will be piloted nationally with a grant from Johnson & Johnson.

The medical school's New Hampshire-Dartmouth Psychiatric Research Center (PRC) has been awarded a seed grant of $200,000 to develop a national pilot program based upon the successful collaboration between Dartmouth and the state of New Hampshire that has helped people with mental illness find jobs and resume functional lives.

The one-year planning grant will support the Johnson & Johnson-Dartmouth Partnership for Mental Wellness, a signature initiative that advances the Johnson & Johnson commitment to healthy communities.

Over the past decade, the Dartmouth employment program, led by Robert Drake, MD, PhD, professor of psychiatry and director of the New Hampshire-PRC, and Deborah Becker, MEd, have helped propel the state into a national leader for helping people with mental illness reenter the workforce. About 40 percent of people with severe mental illness in New Hampshire are employed compared to 10 percent across the country, according to Drake.

"Most people with mental illness are interested in returning to work,"Drake said. "However, we thought that many programs to help prepare those with mental illness for work had been ineffective. So, we turned the standard on its head. "

Instead of training and then placing people, Drake and Becker placed, then trained. Through Becker's guidance, they helped people find jobs rapidly and provided job support. Studies in the New Hampshire mental health services system demonstrated that such supported employment service is more successful in helping those with severe mental illness return to work than other job training programs.

"We are very excited about our collaboration with the Psychiatric Research Center. This planning grant will implement a science-to-practice program for a national unmet need—vocational services for persons with severe mental illness," said Rick Martinez, MD, a spokesman for Johnson & Johnson. "We selected Dartmouth as a partner because of the PRC's successful research in this arena."

Dartmouth will help devise a national exemplar program. The demonstration project will develop training materials and evaluations in three different settings: rural Vermont, an inner city area of Hartford, Connecticut, and a rural community in South Carolina. Now, across the country, fewer than five percent of clients have access to supported services, noted Drake.

The New Hampshire program focuses on individualized job searches. The core is finding a job that fits for each individual and is competitive in the community. It may start just a few hours a week and move up as appropriate, integrating rehabilitation and vocational training in the process.

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