Work and mental health issues explored at Mental Health Day on the Hill

We recently found proof of the power of work in an unusual place – at the Minnesota State Capitol.

It was there that we met Talana, just outside the office of her state representative, Joe Mullery from District 59A. Talana has been working for three months at Goodwill-Easter Seals Minnesota’s West St. Paul Goodwill store. She joined a big group from Goodwill-Easter Seals for Mental Health Day on the Hill on Thursday, March 12. As someone who has dealt with mental health issues her whole life, she was clear about how working has helped her. “You have a sense of value and self-worth when you’re working. It’s a key component of healthy living and living a quality life.” She calls working “paramount” to the improvement she’s had in her mental health.

Talana outside Joe Mullery’s office

Talana’s favorite part of the day? “The benefit of meeting with my actual senator. It felt like ‘Me? Talking to a Senator? Who am I to be doing that?’ It was interesting.”

Sponsored by the Mental Health Legislative Network (MHLN), Mental Health Day on the Hill was the third Day on the Hill event that Goodwill-Easter Seals Minnesota has been a part of during the 2015 Minnesota legislative session. The day started with a standing room only rally at Christ Lutheran Church, where we heard from many of the leading voices in Minnesota’s mental health community.

One of Talana’s biggest concerns was the “973 spend down” which refers to the law that says that if adults receiving medical assistance earn over $973 per month, they must “spend down” their income to continue to qualify for help. You can get the details about that here. Or, watch Talana discuss it below.

Talana helped to point out how complex the rules about work and income can be when you are receiving medical assistance. Worse, as we heard from several people that day, the rules can create a disincentive to work. Goodwill-Easter Seals was at Mental Health Day to help support people like Talana whose lives are affected by these issues, and will do what we can to continue to make sure everyone has a fair opportunity to experience the power of work.

Watch more of Talana’s interview here.

Learn more about how our Work Incentives program can help answers questions about how work and income can affect government benefits.