Mental Health Treatment Study


The Mental Health Treatment Study (MHTS) evaluated the impact that better access to treatment and employment support services would have on outcomes such as medical recovery, functioning, employment, and benefit receipt for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) beneficiaries with a primary impairment of schizophrenia or affective disorder. We examined the advantages and disadvantages of providing these SSDI beneficiaries access to high quality services designed to improve their employment outcomes.  The services included systematic medication management, the services of a nurse-care coordinator to coordinate participants’ physical and mental health therapies, and the services of a supported employment specialist trained in the individual placement and support (IPS) model.  The study also paid for out-of-pocket mental health expenses and other expenses necessary to help participants return to work.


In September 2005, the contract for the Mental Health Treatment Study was awarded to Westat. Enrollment of participants began in October 2006. The study continued for 4 years. We received the final report in 2011.

The MHTS was a randomized controlled trial of SSDI beneficiaries with schizophrenia or an affective disorder. This method involved randomly assigning beneficiaries enrolling into the study to either a treatment group or a control group. The treatment group received a comprehensive package of services and benefits, including evidence-based supported employment using the Individual Placement and Support (IPS) model, systematic medication management for psychiatric medications, behavioral health and related services, and comprehensive insurance to pay for needed services and out-of-pocket expenses. In addition, SSA suspended each beneficiary’s medical Continuing Disability Review (CDR) for a period of 3 years from the date of study enrollment. The control group received a resource manual that listed available local and national services and resources for persons with mental illness, and a nominal payment of $100 for participating in quarterly interviews. The control group was still subject to the medical CDR.

State(s) / Location(s) Involved:
Bridgeport, CT; Chicago, IL; Norwich, CT; Peoria, IL; Manchester, NH; Spring Lake Park, MN; Framingham, MA; Mentor, OH; New York, NY; Indianapolis, IN; Bethesda, MD; Washington, DC; Kansas City, KS; Ft. Lauderdale, FL; Denver, CO; St. Petersburg, FL; Grants Pass, OR; Smyrna, GA; Vancouver, WA; Aiken, SC; Portland, OR; San Antonio, TX

Start / Enrollment Date: October 2006. The project was completed in July 2011.

Participants in the treatment group showed statistically significant improvement in employment rate, mental health status, and quality of life. For example, the 24-month employment rate for the treatment group was 61 percent compared to 40 percent for the control group. Measured at baseline and again at study exit, the treatment group showed a significant improvement over the control group in mental health status. Both the treatment and control groups showed a slight decline in physical health status; however, the changes between the groups were not significant. Measured at baseline and again at study exit, the treatment group showed a significant improvement over the control group in quality of life.

Not applicable.

Not applicable.