The Role of Employment in Recovery and Social Inclusion: An Integrated Approach
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- Virginia Selleck, Ph.D., is the Chief Clinical Officer for Places for People in St. Louis, MO, and has worked in the rehabilitation field for over 30 years.
- Chacku Mathai, CPRP, is the Associate Executive Director for the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services. He is also an implementation partner for the New York State Center of Excellence for the Integration of Care (CEIC), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Recovery to Practice Resource Center for Behavioral Health Professionals, and the SAMHSA Bringing Recovery Supports to Scale Technical Assistance Center (BRSS-TACS).
- Donita Diamata is Project Coordinator for both Peerlink National Technical Assistance Center in Portland, OR, and Project OPEN, which trains employment peer mentors.
“During a 5-year period when I wasn't working, I worried I'd never work again. It was stressful dealing with government red tape to receive a disability check, food stamps, and health insurance. . . . I had nothing to do on the days I wasn't in mental health treatment. . . . Now the only government reporting I do is my income tax. . . . I now have health insurance that's accepted almost everywhere in Erie County, so I can choose who treats my mental health and physical care needs. Best of all, I have a place to go during the week, and no matter how tough the day is at work, it's still less stressful than being unemployed.”
—Maura Kelley, Director of Mental Health Peer Connection,
in a piece in the Buffalo News
The significant disparity in employment rates among people with mental and substance use disorders compared to the general population is a longstanding issue, and one that deserves our attention. At a time when the unemployment rate among the general population is about 8 percent, more than 70 percent of people with mental disorders are unemployed.1 According to the Adler School’s Institute on Social Exclusion, social determinants of mental health, which it defines as “those elements of social structure most closely shown to affect health and illness,” include employment status, as well as several factors closely related to employment status, including income inequality, food security, housing quality, discrimination, and physical isolation.2 Employment is integral to becoming a self-sufficient, contributing member of the community. People who are employed are less likely to need public financial assistance and are more likely to live above the poverty level. Currently, 31.7 percent of people with mental illnesses live below the poverty line.3
Employment is one of the single best ways to ensure social inclusion, economic independence, and recovery. Increasingly, research has shown that work is positive and rehabilitative. Gainful employment consistent with an individual’s skills and interests plays a central role in promoting financial independence, individual recovery, wellness, and overall social inclusion.
People are putting approaches into place based on services that focus on the individual. These person-centered approaches foster employment for people with mental and substance use disorders. When approaches provide people with mental and substance use disorders with expedited pathways to securing meaningful work and social support necessary for continued success, they lead to positive, life-changing outcomes. Remarkable successes happen when service providers, public officials, and peers work together to create empowering policies and programs, integrated and creative funding streams, and networks of support.
During this webinar you will gain a better understanding of challenges and solutions and learn about some of the policy, provider, and peer-related issues that influence access to employment and support for those who are employed. You will also hear about the tools available to support the development of employment initiatives. The webinar will also cover how great change has come about in New York State, including engagement of both service providers and employers, to bring about increases in employment rates for people with mental and substance use disorders. Also, it will tell the story of how work and thinking outside the box have made a tremendous difference in one person’s recovery journey and life.
- Develop an increased understanding of how discrimination is reflected in the unemployment and underemployment rates among people with mental and substance use disorders compared to the general population and the resulting marginalization and economic and social impacts.
- Learn how historical funding and policy barriers impact this issue.
- Learn how advocates transformed the culture in New York from the grassroots to the Governor’s Office by implementing a comprehensive social inclusion model of
economic independence, proactive engagement, empowerment, and employment that integrated Federal, State, and local programs to assist people in securing satisfying work and escaping the poverty trap.
- Hear a courageous, personal story of recovery and of risk-taking to overcome obstacles and turn a dream into reality. This story illustrates the importance of meaningful work and financial independence and the personal and professional fulfillment that comes from giving back to the community.
- People in recovery from mental health, substance use, and trauma-related challenges
- Mental health and substance abuse service providers
- Health care providers
- Employment and job placement professionals
- Employers and human resources professionals
- Social service, welfare, and employment services
- Leaders of community-and faith-based organizations
- Federal, State, and local agency personnel, policymakers, and public officials
Virginia Selleck, Ph.D., is the Chief Clinical Officer for Places for People in St. Louis, MO. Prior to starting this position in July 2012, Dr. Selleck spent 5½ years as the Director of the Office of Transformation and Clinical Director for the Comprehensive Psychiatric Services Division of the Missouri Department of Mental Health. Dr. Selleck has worked in the rehabilitation field for over 30 years. Her experience includes program development, implementation, funding, legislation, and policy work. Dr. Selleck works with division staff and community stakeholders to create policies, practices, and technical assistance methods that will lead to enhanced recovery outcomes for people with serious mental illness. Previously, she was a supervisor in the Adult Mental Health Division of the Minnesota Department of Human Services, working on policy and technical assistance, mental health grants management, and diverse liaison services. Prior to moving to Minnesota in 1992, Dr. Selleck worked at Thresholds Psychiatric Rehabilitation Center in Chicago, IL, where she worked in all facets of the program, as well as supervising Thresholds's federally funded Research and Training Institute. Her early career was spent in Southern Illinois as a “circuit riding” community mental health counselor with the Egyptian Public and Mental Health Department.
Chacku Mathai, CPRP, is an Indian-American, born in Kuwait, who has over 25 years of experience in mental health and addiction community-based services in a wide variety of roles, including Peer Advocate, Peer Support Meeting Facilitator, Self-Help Educator, Community Organizer and Educator, Community Residence Manager, Psychiatric Rehabilitation Practitioner, and Trainer and Program Administrator. Mr. Mathai currently serves as the Associate Executive Director for the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services. He is also an implementation partner for the New York State CEIC, the SAMHSA Recovery to Practice Resource Center for Behavioral Health Professionals, and SAMHSA’s BRSS-TACS. He served as a founding board member and advocate for Friends of Recovery New York, a statewide coalition of people in recovery from addiction, and is a former member of the commission that oversees the United States Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association’s Certification Program for Certified Psychiatric Rehabilitation Practitioners (CPRPs). Mr. Mathai is regularly invited to train across the country on peer support; leadership; advocacy; and exemplary, integrated practices in supporting people with psychiatric disabilities, diagnoses, trauma-related conditions, and co-occurring substance use conditions. His personal experiences as a consumer/survivor/ex-patient of mental health and addiction services in New York launched Mr. Mathai and his family toward a number of efforts to advocate for improved services and alternative supports in the community.
Donita Diamata is Project Coordinator for both Peerlink National Technical Assistance Center in Portland, OR, and Project OPEN, a project that trains employment peer mentors. Ms. Diamata began her career in advocacy in 1992 at The Mind Empowered, Inc., a peer-run nonprofit, where she worked in their drop-in program. When the organization lost its funding in 1997, Ms. Diamata collaborated with Beckie Child to start a new drop-in program, continuing the philosophy that all would be welcome, regardless of their current status in mental health or addiction services, their ability to pay for services, or their history with other services. Under Ms. Diamata’s leadership, within 2 years of the program’s creation, the new drop-in center became the most successful program of its kind in Oregon, earning over $1 million a year, and averaging an attendance of 140 participants each day. As a result of this success, she was asked to revamp three other existing drop-in programs in the Portland area, turning them into financially solvent peer-operated programs as well. Her work continued through Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare as Director of Consumer Affairs until 2006. During her tenure, one of the most important things Ms. Diamata did was to lead the effort to create Cascadia’s Consumer/Survivor Advisory Council. Ms. Diamata feels fortunate to have become immersed in the peer movement, where she began a career as a provider, then creator, of state-of-the-art peer-delivered services. While Ms. Diamata continues to advocate for improved services, empowered clients, and dramatic changes within the system, she is also pursuing a writing career as she finishes the second draft of her first novel.