Sheila H. Akabas

Professor Emeritus of Social Work
Director Emeritus, Center for Social Policy and Practice in the Workplace

Bio:

It might be said that the world of work is my "beat." My special interest through a long career has been in equal opportunity in the labor market for diverse populations. Early in my career I worked for labor unions and helped establish Membership and Employee Assistance Programs (MAPs & EAPs) in various workplaces. I have had an instrumental role in the development and evaluation of EAP efforts and continue to evaluate their operation as a research direction.

Additionally, I have helped establish world of work curricula at numerous Schools of Social Work and have maintained an ongoing commitment to contribute to the scholarly literature in this field with the objective of promoting the expansion of services to working men and women and to the many disadvantaged individuals who seek entry into the world of work.

I have a long standing interest in issues of disability and have served in different capacities that promote the employment of individuals with disability starting with practice roles as the Director of Rehabilitation for the New York State Worker's Compensation Board and as Associate Director of Just One Break, a placement service for workers with disabilities. I have provided consultation on disability and labor market policy under the United Nations, the World Rehabilitation Fund and other auspices to Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, Great Britain, Israel, Kazakhstan, New Zealand and Sweden as well as to corporations, non-profit agencies and trade unions in the United States.

Most recently I have been concerned about the issue of social justice for people with mental health conditions and serve on the Statewide Educational Advisory Board of the NYS Office of Mental Health and on the Advisory Board of the VNSNY as well as directing several efforts that implement vocational outcomes for those often excluded from the labor force. My interests are reflected in an applied research agenda that has kept me actively involved building knowledge and implementing programs in agencies providing health, mental health and social services across the lifespan from children with asthma, those aging out of foster care and adults facing challenges in the workplace throughout the City, State and the nation.

Areas of Expertise:

  • Social work and the workplace
  • Management of workforce diversity
  • Human resource management and supervision
  • Employment for individuals with mental health conditions and/or other disabilities
  • EAP/MAP program development and evaluation
  • Employment issues facing disaffected youth

Current Projects:

  • Evaluation of mental health service delivery systems
  • Quality assurance review of union assistance program
  • Securing and maintaining competitive employment for people with serious and persistent mental health conditions
  • Promoting effective links between community mental health providers and employers
  • Mitigating the negative workplace consequences of domestic violence and vicarious traumatization
  • Peers on staff: Starting a new historical record
  • Workplace supports for parents who are caregivers to children with asthma

Selected Publications:

Journal Articles

Akabas, S. H., & Gates, L. B. (2009). Connecting trade unions to the community: Promoting employment for individuals with mental health conditions. Journal of Workplace Behavioral Health, 24, 61-75.

Gates, L. B., & Akabas, S. H. (2007). Developing strategies to integrate peer providers into the staff of mental health agencies. Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research, 34, 293–306.

Akabas, S. H., Gates, L. B., & Oran-Sabia, V. (2006). Work opportunities for rewarding careers: Insights from implementation of a best practice approach toward vocational services for mental health consumers. Journal of Rehabilitation, 72(1), 19-26.

Gates, L. B., Klein, S. W., Akabas, S. H., Myers, R., Schwager, M., & Kaelin‑Kee, J. (2005). Outcomes-based funding for vocational services and employment of people with mental health conditions. Psychiatric Services, 56, 1429-1435.

Gates, L. B., Klein, S. W., Akabas, S. H., Myers, R., Schwager, M., & Kaelin‑Kee, J. (2004). Performance based contracting: Turning vocational policy into jobs. Administration and Policy in Mental Health, 31(3), 219-240.

Akabas, S. H., Gates, L., & Zwelling, E. (2001). Have I got a worker for you: Creating employment opportunities for people with psychiatric disability. Administration and Policy in Mental Health, 28(4), 319-325.

Akabas, S. H., & Gates, L. (2000). A social work role: Promoting employment equity for people with serious and persistent mental illness. Administration in Social Work, 23, 3/4.

Books and Book Chapters

Gates, L. B., & Akabas, S. H. (in press). Accommodation as a social process. In I. A. Schultz & E. S. Rogers (Eds.), Handbook of Accommodation.

Akabas, S. H., & Gates, L. B. (2006). Older adults and work in the 21st century. In B. Berkman & S. D'Ambruoso (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Social Work in Health and Aging (pp. 181-190). New York: Oxford University Press.

Akabas, S. H., & Gates, L. B. (2006). The workplace. In B. Berkman & S. D'Ambruoso (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of social work in health and aging (pp. 499-507). New York: Oxford University Press.

Akabas, S. H., & Kurzman, P. (2005). Work and the workplace: A resource for innovative policy and practice. New York: Columbia University Press.

Akabas, S. H., Gates, L. B., Koball, G., & Imperiali, B. (2003). Promoting effective connections between community mental health care providers and employers. New York: Columbia University Workplace Center.

Akabas, S. H., & Gates, L. B. (2002). The role of employee assistance programs in supporting workers with mental health conditions. New York: Columbia University, Center for Social Policy and Practice in the Workplace.

Akabas, S. H., Gates, L. B., & Bikson, L. (2002). Unions helping workers with mental health conditions: A guide for consumers, providers and union representatives. New York: Columbia University, Center for Social Policy and Practice in the Workplace.

Akabas, S. H. (2001). Work and job jeopardy. In A. Gitterman (Ed.), Social work practice with vulnerable and resilient populations (pp. 841-860). New York: Columbia University Press with Lori Bikson.

Akabas, S. H. (2000). Practice in the world of work: Promise unrealized. In P. A. Mears & C. D. Gervin (Eds.) The handbook of social work direct practice. Thousands Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.