Toolkit to help those with psychiatric disabilities reach educational goals

August 22, 2012

(Medical Xpress) -- All too often, when individuals experience a mental health impairment, it derails their education. Researchers at the Office of Mental Health Research and Training at the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare have released a new iteration of a toolkit designed to help mental health agencies support these individuals in the quest to achieve their educational goals.

The Supported Toolkit 3.0 provides measures for mental to evaluate their programs’ effectiveness, and it offers specific tools for both fidelity reviewers and implementation sites that can be individually tailored to help people who have been hospitalized because of mental health conditions such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or severe depression.

“People in these cases have often had their first psychotic break in late high school or college and had their education put on hold,” said Trevor Manthey, a KU doctoral student and one of the lead developers of the tookit. “Often, just thinking about renewing their education can bring back those negative associations.”

Supported education is a practice in mental health to provide individuals who have experienced psychiatric disabilities with the personal and environmental support they need to be able to focus on completing their educational goals. The aim is to help enable people to overcome their disabilities and live a meaningful, dignified and productive life. A good deal of research has highlighted the importance of education in mental health recovery.

The new toolkit will help mental health agencies design recovery plans for individuals. No two cases are exactly alike, and the plans can be tailored to each individual. It also provides specific measures to evaluate and grade their programs and determine areas that may need improvement.

“The nice thing about what we’ve created is it’s flexible,” Manthey said. “You can combine it with other tools such as supported employment, or overall mental health recovery or something else entirely, depending on what their goals are.”

Individuals who experience a psychiatric disability and do not finish their education may be relegated to low-income jobs and living in poverty. Others often are not employed, and it is not uncommon for dependence on government support programs to be the result. One of the goals of the Supported Education Toolkit is to help individuals gain financial independence by finishing their education and subsequently acquire long-term gainful employment.

The toolkitwill be made available for download online for mental health agencies across the country. Professionals in Australia and Canada are studying the toolkit to determine if they can implement it in their countries.

KU researchers have studied the first two iterations of the and will continue to evaluate the third. These researchers have conducted interviews with professionals and individuals who have experienced psychiatric disabilities both in Kansas and across the nation. They are also examining the experiences of individuals who have put their education on hold. They are working with two groups: those who are going back to school and others who say they are done for good. Nearly all report facing discrimination or negative incidents because of their disability, whether it is a loss of friends or judgment from teachers. The goal is to better understand their experiences and continue to improve supported education programs.

Manthey, a native of Sequim, Wash., worked as a therapist before coming to KU to earn his doctorate. He’s seen individuals who said they never thought they’d go back or finish school achieve their goals with the assistance of Supported Education. He worked with KU School of faculty and staff members Rick Goscha, Melinda Coffman, Ally Mabry, Linda Carlson, Jennifer Davis and Charles Rapp.

“It’s been a real pleasure to be involved in this,” he said. “To name just a few, I’ve seen people who originally didn’t finish their first year of college go on to get their degree. Others have finished high school or obtained their nursing certificate. It’s very rewarding.”

Explore further: Racial discrimination lessens benefits of higher socio-economic status (w/ Video)

Related Stories

Attention to mental health boosts academic performance

June 21, 2011

Australian primary school students whose mental health and wellbeing improved through KidsMatter showed better academic performance equivalent to having up to six months extra schooling, an independent evaluation by Flinders ...

Reduction in mental health discrimination

May 3, 2012

Findings from a new study led by King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry (IoP) show improvements in behaviour towards people with mental health problems in England, during the first year of the national ...

Recommended for you

Depression screening rates in primary care remain low

February 20, 2017

Despite federal recommendations for depression screening, a new Rutgers study found that less than 5 percent of adults were screened for depression in primary care settings. The low screening rate suggests missed opportunities ...

What the ability to 'get the gist' says about your brain

February 17, 2017

Many who have a chronic traumatic brain injury (TBI) report struggling to solve problems, understand complex information and maintain friendships, despite scoring normally on cognitive tests. New research from the Center ...

B vitamins reduce schizophrenia symptoms, study finds

February 16, 2017

A review of worldwide studies has found that add-on treatment with high-dose b-vitamins - including B6, B8 and B12 - can significantly reduce symptoms of schizophrenia more than standard treatments alone.

Emotions are cognitive, not innate, researchers conclude

February 15, 2017

Emotions are not innately programmed into our brains, but, in fact, are cognitive states resulting from the gathering of information, New York University Professor Joseph LeDoux and Richard Brown, a professor at the City ...

People are found to be inefficient when searching for things

February 15, 2017

(Medical Xpress)—A trio of researchers at the University of Aberdeen in the U.K. has found that when people scan areas looking for something in particular, they tend to do so in a very inefficient manner. In their paper ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.