University of Illinois at Chicago
Department of Psychiatry
Center on Mental Health Services Research and Policy

National Research and Training Center (NRTC)


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 EducationŽ (NEFEŽ) 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.

Situation Analysis

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.

Project Goals

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 the Final Report

For more information on NEFE, please visit

See the next step in our financial education agenda

The UIC CMHSRP is part of the ongoing Education and Research efforts of the UIC Department of Psychiatry

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