Support for Bipolar in Employment and Criminal Justice

Goals

To further explore the monitoring of bipolar patients and the provision of feedback to caregivers and health providers, and to identify the help available to bipolar patients to carry out their work efficiently. This should include specific opportunities such as grants, donations, or programs that could provide funding and resources to help build solutions in these areas. In addition, insights into how bipolar disorder interfaces with the criminal justice system and the programs and resources that have been created to support the recovery of bipolar patients post-discharge from psychiatric and addiction treatment facilities should be incorporated into the research.

Early Findings

Funding to Assist in Workplace Solutions

  • There has been a focus on peer solutions when attempting to find ways to assist those with bipolar in the workforce. The literature around peer solutions suggests that the peer specialists are those who have recovered from bipolar and have been trained and qualified to assist others with this condition transition into the workforce. It is a mentorship role.
  • 75% of states have instigated a program of this nature and allow for the program to be funded through Medicare. Guidelines have recently been developed for peer support services by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to assist states that wish to bill for peer support services.
  • Peer support is fast becoming a gold standard in the treatment of bipolar, especially in assisting those suffering a relapse to transition back into the workforce once their bipolar is manageable. There are an estimated 30,000 people currently in this role in the US.
  • The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) implements solutions of this nature throughout the US. A list of its current individual grants is available here. Details on how to apply for a grant and the eligibility criteria are available here, along with a range of resources to assist in the application process.
  • A list of potential funding sources is available at the Inside Philanthropy website. Upon perusal of the current funding and the foundations that are available to assist in funding, it appears a project of the nature described would fall within the areas of mental health for which funding is available. A list of potential foundations and funders is available here.

Criminal Justice

  • The National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMH) provides assistance for those reentering society following the completion of a sentence of imprisonment or treatment. Although the assistance is not specific to those with bipolar, it is one of the conditions for which support is available.
  • NAMH provides a number of resources on their website. There are also NAMH affiliate offices across the country that are able to assist on a more practical level. Reentry service directories are available for most states on the NAMH website.
  • The welfare of patients with bipolar within the criminal justice system remains a serious concern. This is due to diagnostic difficulties, suicidal tendencies, and comorbidities, such as substance abuse.
  • Given the over representation of those with mental illness within the criminal justice system, there is a powerful argument for investing in appropriate resources to assist this demographic to avoid them coming into contact with the criminal justice system.
  • Jail diversion is, in many instances, the best option for those with bipolar as it allows them to get the treatment they need. A comprehensive guide to navigating the criminal justice system is available here. It is of note that little information is provided to assist post sentence or discharge.

Summary

  • There are a considerable number of resources available in the public domain that provide insight into this area of mental health. In our initial hour of research, we have scoped the information available. The resources available are more than ample to answer the questions set out in the goals. Unfortunately, given the one-hour time restraint, we have only been able to briefly review some of these resources on a superficial level. More in depth research is required to properly address the questions raised.

Proposed next steps:

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