Hope in Employment

Dec 01, 2015

By Community Support Services

The significance of work as part of recovery is clearly demonstrated by two individuals who have recently secured employment through the agency's Supported Employment program.  Supported Employment is an evidence-based practice that utilizes core principles such as consumer preferences, rapid job search and placement, integration with mental health services, benefits advocacy, and time-unlimited supports to help persons with mental illness find competitive jobs in the community. The research demonstrates that the principles of SE produce more positive consumer outcomes and improved program and system outcomes. Employment also has a positive impact on other areas of treatment and recovery for consumers of mental health services.

Stephen - A Mail Room Rock Star

In February 2013, Stephen started in the Supported Employment Program, wanting to secure permanent employment. Stephen previously had job assessments and a job at that time but was not able to keep the job due to his anxiety. Stephen’s struggle with anxiety limited his employment opportunities. Employment staff and Stephen never gave up hope that he could obtain a satisfying job and maintain it with success. On August 31, 2015 Stephen began working at Coleman Data Solutions in the mail room. The supports in place have assisted Stephen to focus on his job and less on his anxiety. Stephen stated this job means everything to him. “I am able to function, hold a conversation with my coworkers, and eat lunch in the break room.” When speaking to Stephen’s supervisor, he stated that Stephen's work ethics are exceptional and they call him the Rock Star of the mail room! Despite Stephen's challenges, he shared that he feels better mentally and socially, and has made connections with peers.

Michelle - More than a Paycheck

In January 2013, Michelle was referred to Supported Employment for a work assessment to determine if she was able to handle a part time position as she had not worked since 2003. Michelle presented with depression, social isolation, and paralysis of her left arm and leg. Also, she had substance abuse issues and several misdemeanors in her background. Despite these challenges, she was able to complete a 40 hour assignment as a Front Desk Clerk. This opportunity allowed her to develop her clerical and social skills, along with confidence in her abilities to work again. Michelle then began to participate actively with Job Development Services. She attended weekly meetings with her Supported Employment Specialist and was open to applying for various clerical/front desk positions. During a 2 year period, Michelle had numerous interviews and at times expressed her feelings of hopelessness because employers were not willing “to look past her disabilities and give her a chance”. She said that she was determined to remain “dedicated” to her job search. In May 2015, Michelle obtained a position as a Front Desk Receptionist working 16 hours per week. Michelle stated that her job has “allowed her to feel human again.” Michelle also shared that the best part of her job is “being able to be around people means more to me than a paycheck." Michelle added that she was thankful for the help she received in Supported Employment and is happy that employment staff check in with her and she can call staff with any issues she encounters.