Exploring Personal Assistance Services for People with Psychiatric Disabilities: Need, Policy, and Practice

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Psychiatry, Center for Mental Health Services Research; Center for Health Policy and Research

Publication Date


Document Type



Mentally Disabled Persons; Mental Health Services; Employment, Supported; Work


Health Services Research | Mental and Social Health | Psychiatric and Mental Health | Psychiatry | Psychiatry and Psychology


This article explores the concept of personal assistant services (PAS) applied to people with psychiatric disabilities through a study of state policy, a secondary analysis of existing data on PAS for all disability populations, and a needs assessment conducted with consumers of mental health services. Findings indicate that some state programs include this population among the other disability groups or eligibility criteria used. Further, administrators tended to confuse PAS with rehabilitation and case management. A majority of consumers surveyed considered PAS to be potentially very helpful in their daily lives. They also valued having direct control over the assistant. The services they most frequently reported as needing included transportation, emotional support, help with negotiating social service agencies, and hands-on assistance with household needs. A unique agenda for psychiatric PAS calls for a combination of the delivery of the above services within a context of consumer control.

DOI of Published Version



Pita, D.D., Ellison, M.L., Farkas, M., & Bleecker, T. (2001). Exploring personal assistance services for people with psychiatric disabilities: Need, policy, practice. The Journal of Disability Policy Studies, 12(1), 2-9. doi: 10.1177/104420730101200101

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of Disability Policy Studies


At the time of publication, Marsha Langer Ellison was not yet affiliated with the University of Massachusetts Medical School.