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Competitive employment works for mental health patients

“Vicious cycle: Mental illness and poverty go hand-in-hand.” – Sue Abderholden, April 2010

Sue Abderholden, MPH, a member of the Goodwill/Easter Seals Minnesota Board of Directors and Executive Director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Minnesota, has devoted her career to changing laws and attitudes that affect people with disabilities and their families. She believes that mental illness and poverty go hand-in-hand, usually because one leads to the other and vice-versa.

Abderholden understands that people are in poverty partly because they are not able to work. But with the evidence-based Individual Placement and Support (IPS) employment model utilized at our Working Well Mental Health Clinic and by the Families Achieving Success Today (F.A.S.T.) Program, they can work. IPS is an evidenced-based approach to supported employment for people with mental illness that supports them in their efforts to achieve steady employment in mainstream competitive jobs. IPS has been extensively researched and proven to be effective. In 11 of 11 studies, 61 percent of individuals receiving IPS services worked competitively, as compared to 23 percent of those receiving more traditional vocational services.

Goodwill/Easter Seals is known and respected for our work with people who experience serious  mental illness. We recognize the vital role mental health services plays in helping individuals, couples and families reach their fullest potential. We are able to offer a comprehensive, compassionate approach to services that assists them in moving toward self-sufficiency.

F.A.S.T. is an example of a new, innovative approach being tested at Goodwill/Easter Seals that assists people in returning to work. It is one of three programs that are part of a national evaluation funded by the Administration for Children and Families and the Social Security Administration. F.A.S.T. serves Ramsey County families who receive public financial help and have a serious mental illness, or who face other challenges that create barriers to employment. The goal is to increase family and economic stability by connecting participants to the tailored, self-directed services they need, when they need them.

F.A.S.T. utilizes IPS as part of a holistic approach to work that includes an individual’s health, spirituality and relationship needs.

The Goodwill/Easter Seals Minnesota Working Well Mental Health Clinic is a licensed, Rule 29 multidisciplinary outpatient clinic that offers individual therapy, couple and family therapy, group therapy, diagnostic assessments, psychological testing and Adult Mental Health Rehabilitative Services (ARMHS).  At the clinic, IPS is viewed not just as a successful approach to employment, but as integral part of an individual’s recovery.

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