Vocational rehabilitation, homelessness, social support, mental illness, substance abuse


Job retention is an important psychosocial rehabilitation goal, but one that is not often achieved. We investigate facilitators of and barriers to employment retention among homeless individuals with psychiatric and substance abuse diagnoses who were re-interviewed eight or more years after participating in a traditional vocational rehabilitation program. Most program graduates who maintained employment had secured social support from a variety of sources; personal motivation was also a critical element in job retention and compensated in some cases for an absence of social support. Both the availability of social support contacts and personal motivation influenced likelihood of maintaining sobriety. Physical health problems prevented continued employment for several individuals despite social support and desire to work, while receipt of disability benefits seemed to reduce work motivation.

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