AltaPointe’s Supported Employment Program Helps People With Serious Mental Illnesses Get Competitive Employment

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AltaPointe Health provides 1 million primary and behavioral health services annually to more than 45,000 people throughout Alabama.

It is rewarding to see the people we serve obtain employment, earn a salary, increase their independence and see them contribute to society while managing their illness.

Finding a job is difficult for some made even more complicated when it comes to managing serious mental illness. AltaPointe’s Supported Employment Program aims to facilitate this process. This is how it works. Program staff spend time building relationships with local businesses to develop employment opportunities and work with AltaPointe consumers to match them with careers.

Supported employment emphasizes that work is not the result of treatment and recovery, but an integral part of both. The goal is to help people with serious mental illness or co-occurring substance use disorder find and keep satisfying jobs. From retail to foodservice to commercial jobs, there are opportunities for consumers with varying degrees of education and skills, according to Pam Maumenee, assistant director of adult community services. All jobs are competitive and not reserved for people with disabilities. They are part-time or full-time and pay minimum wage or more.

“If job seekers choose to disclose, we can recommend them to employers and say, ‘this is what this person can do or this is what this person can do’ and the employer says, ‘this is what I ‘need’, and we make the connection. If jobseekers prefer not to disclose their disability to employers, we can work behind the scenes to offer them full support. says Maumenée. “Both options are fine, and we want to that the consumer chooses the strategy that seems most comfortable to him. It is also acceptable to change a disclosure preference during job search or after hiring.

The argument that people with serious mental illness shouldn’t or can’t work is meaningless, because many can and do work effectively.

Current agency-wide data from AltaPointe shows that 14.27% of adult consumers with severe mental illness (SMI) are in competitive jobs, including 9.25% full-time and 5.02 % part time.

“It’s rewarding to see the people we serve get a job, earn a paycheck, increase their independence, and see them contribute to society while managing their illness,” Maumenee said.

Behavioral health experts add that unemployment for people with severe mental illness can be far worse for mental health than job-related stress. Tuerk Schlesinger, CEO of AltaPointe Health, supports the idea that employment benefits have a positive impact on a person’s mental health and well-being.

“Work has proven to be a critical part of the recovery,” Schlesinger added. “Since 1987, AltaPointe’s Supported Employment program has helped people enter or re-enter the workforce through competitive employment. This can lead to better health outcomes for the most vulnerable population we serve.

For more information about the Supported Employment Program, please call (205) 450-4301 or visit https://altapointe.org/services/supported-employment/.

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