ServiceNet’s Mental Health Recovery Services has recently embarked on an exciting new program to help program participants (mental health clients) secure meaningful employment in the community. Throughout the past year ServiceNet has done a remarkable job of creating positions within the agency for almost 75 individuals we serve through DMH Community Based Flexible Support services. These positions include working as Peer Drivers in our new Transportation system, Peer Staff working as receptionists, office managers, video technicians, on moving and cleaning crews, and as Peer Mentors providing recovery services directly to participants in our programs. In addition, ServiceNet is in the process of creating a variety of small businesses which are committed to hiring and providing jobs for program participants.
The time has now come to take the next step by contacting businesses and organizations in the community who are willing to consider hiring individuals with mental illness. Many of the program participants in our Mental Health Recovery Services have skills, talents and experience in a wide variety of areas including retail, manufacturing, the trades, restaurant work, and social services; some have gone on to acquire degrees in fields such as engineering and social work. More often than not, the careers of these folks have been interrupted by their illnesses. However, through the treatment and support of ServiceNet staff and peer counselors, many of the individuals we serve have successfully recovered and are ready to re-enter the job market with competitive part time or full time employment. There are many barriers to realizing this dream, including the tough economy, the natural fear that individuals may feel about re-entry into the workforce after years of struggling with mental health challenges, and stigma against individuals with mental illness in the workplace.
We now need your help! ServiceNet staff come from a variety of nearby towns and have connections with local businesses, merchants and organizations that might be receptive to hearing about our employment services program. Staff also have friends or relatives working in a local business or organization that might be in a position to offer one of our participants hours performing meaningful paid employment. It is important for any potential employer to know that ServiceNet will support and stand behind every individual placed by providing the necessary level of individualized assistance for as long as it is needed. Employers will be given an emergency phone number that they can call in the case of any unforeseen difficulty or challenge in the workplace, which might come up during the transition.
Research has shown that this can be a win-win situation for the business as well as for the participant as employee. In addition to the advantage of an expanded labor pool, tax benefits may be available to employers who hire people with identified disabilities. Employers can also enjoy the pride of knowing that they have provided people with the opportunity to be contributing members of society. We hope you will make every effort to consider helping us find local business leaders who are interested in partnering with us in this worthwhile endeavor. Tell someone in the business community about our program, let us know of contacts we can make for possible jobs, and inform us of open positions that you are aware of.
Information and leads can be forwarded directly to Bob Hannum, MHRS Director of Employment Services via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone 207-4806.
As one of our participants reflected “employment is the difference between thriving and just surviving.”
Thank you for your assistance in getting our program participants back to work!
Mark Keller, LICSW Susan Stubbs
Vice President of Mental Health President and CEO