Success through employment

Authored by: Angie Younessi, CSS Communications Associate

For years, Phyllis expected every job she had to end in failure. Her extreme anxiety created challenges when uncontrollable situations arose at her job. Time after time, she found herself without proper coping skills. The result? She would be fired, or she would quit. Even when she seemed to be moving ahead, she’d find the expectations for her were just too high.

Phyllis believed she could handle her mental health challenges on her own, but after decades of the cycle repeating, she realized something needed to change. She was tired of job hopping and decided to seek help.

Phyllis started counseling at CSS two years ago and was diagnosed with a mood disorder. That set her on a path to recovery. A year or so into treatment, she was enrolled in the CSS Supported Employment program – a life-changing opportunity.

With support from the employment team, she’s getting things under control and believes her ultimate goal of becoming a human resources professional is within reach. Phyllis credits her employment specialist, Vincent Paris, with helping her to build the skills she needed to be a confident employee with a professional demeanor. Now, when things get tough, she’s able to keep her temper, maintain a professional attitude and not to walk away. Phyllis says Vincent has helped her improve communication with her supervisor and has been a valuable asset as a liaison between her and her employer when she needs accommodation, like mental health breaks.

The skills Phyllis has learned have led to employment success: She recently was employed as a cashier at a retail store for eight months – the longest she’d been at a single job. From there, she moved on to a job working in the bakery at a local grocery store, where the pace is less hectic. Although she said the new job can be stressful, she’s learned how to cope with the stress.

In addition to working, Phyllis is attending a local college where she is pursuing an associate degree in administration. She recently achieved a certificate toward her degree, an accomplishment she’s particularly proud of.

Phyllis says she’s grateful for the strength and determination she’s built through her Supported Employment experience and wants to share the message with other clients: “Don’t give up.” She admits that starting out with treatment is tough, but that the results are worth it. Now she is focused on taking the next steps to where she wants to be – a lesson she hopes other clients can take to heart.