Assessing the Financial Planning Needs
of Americans with Mental Illnesses
The Center on Mental Health Services
Research and Policy (CMHSRP) was funded by the National
Endowment for Financial Education® (NEFE®)
to assess the financial planning and education needs
of people with psychiatric disabilities. Over the
course of this one-year project, we gathered comprehensive
information on the complicated financial situations
that people with psychiatric disabilities face. In
its final report,
available for download below, CMHSRP described these
issues, along with a series of recommendations for
financial planning tools to help people achieve financial
security, and the best ways to effectively
disseminate such tools.
Americans with disabling mental health disorders
are far more likely to live in poverty than the general
population. In addition, people with psychiatric
disabilities often face complex financial situations,
like having to choose between receiving disability
benefits and pursuing employment. Too often, people
with mental illnesses are unable to exercise much
choice in how their financial resources are spent
in terms of housing, education, leisure pursuits,
or other important life activities.
Existing financial planning tools are either limited
in scope (for example, focusing only on planning for
Social Security disability benefits), or aimed at too
broad an audience, and not specifically tailored to
the issues faced by people with mental health concerns.
This project explored these issues and made recommendations
for a comprehensive tool that people with psychiatric
disabilities can use to control their own money, and
plan their own financial futures.
CMHSRP staff developed a comprehensive
assessment of the financial planning and education
needs of persons with mental illnesses for NEFE
. After administering the assessment via interviews
and focus groups with mental health consumers,
a report was created and is available for downloading.
The report also presents recommendations for
the development and delivery of personal finance
education materials tailored for appropriate
audiences. Based on this report, NEFE will decide
whether to develop targeted financial education
and planning tools, as well as how best to disseminate
them through partner organizations identified
with the help of the CMHSRP.
Download Final Report
Judith A. Cook, Ph.D.
For more information on NEFE, please visit http://www.nefe.org