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Supported Employment Services for Persons with Mental Illness

ProvidersBeing part of the working community creates a powerful bond. Having a job helps build a person’s self-esteem. It gives the worker a sense of purpose and direction in life. Workers get to know other people and find their place the broader community. This helps to make a person’s life more enjoyable. Working provides money to buy goods and services. People also can get health insurance and other benefits through their job. While a job is not the only path to mental health recovery, for many people it is an important part of recovery. Yet, for individuals with serious mental illnesses, securing employment, even on a part-time basis, remains elusive.

The Allegheny County DHS Office of Behavioral Health (OBH) is committed to helping people with serious mental illness find and keep a job through supported employment services. Working with the Employment Transformation Committee, OBH produced a pdf.gif plan to improve employment outcomes for people with serious mental illness.

Supported employment services help people, 18 years of age and older, with serious mental illness find a job. After a person finds a job, the supported employment program staff continues to provide support to the person for as long as the person wants it.

Supported Employment Principles
  1. Consumer choice
    Anyone, 18 years of age and older, who has a serious mental illness may participate in supported employment services.
  2. Integrated Services
    The person can take advantage of a program where all involved professionals work together for his/her benefit.
  3. Competitive jobs
    Persons are matched with jobs in the open labor market that pay at least minimum wage and that anyone could have, regardless of their dis/ability status.
  4. Benefits counseling
    Persons are educated about how their publicly-funded benefits (such as SSI, SSDI, Section 8 housing or Medicaid) are affected by working. Most persons are able to work and continue to receive some benefits.
  5. Timely support
    Future workers are assisted in finding a job soon after they enter the program.
  6. Continuous supports
    Workers receive on-going support, as desired.
  7. Consumer preferences honored
    Job selection is based on a person’s preferences, strengths, and experiences.
Allegheny County Providers of Supported Employment Services

ACHIEVA’s Supported Employment
Life’s Work of Western PA Career Connections
Mercy Behavioral Health
Milestone Centers, Inc. 
Mon Yough Community Services, Inc., Supported Employment 
Turtle Creek Valley MH/MR, Inc., Employment Services

Related Information 

Benefits Counseling
Community Work Incentive Coordinator William Colteryahn provides benefits counseling. Contact him at 412-381-3313 or William.Colteryahn@ahedd.org.

pdf.gif It Pays to Work - Are You Ready to Cash In? - A Guide for People Who Receive SSI/SSDI
Published in 2010 by Allegheny Health Choices, Inc.

The Pennsylvania Employment Transformation Project

pdf.gif Plan to Improve Employment Outcomes for People in Recovery
DHS Office of Behavioral Health