Finding Employment Opportunities
Having a job can give you a sense of purpose, self-worth and accomplishment. It can also play a key role in your recovery process by providing opportunities for you to socialize and learn new skills and talents. This section is designed to help you enter the world of work by providing resources on finding and securing employment.
For more information on employment services and supports, including school-based preparatory experiences, career preparation and work-based learning experiences, you may also want to check out the issue brief, Helping Youth with Mental Health Needs Avoid Transition Cliffs: Lessons from Pioneering Transition Programs. To help you make employment choices after high school, review the Determining Post Secondary Goals document in the On Our Own resource group.
Also check out the Youth, Disclosure and the Workplace: Why, When, What and How and the Entering the World of Work: What You Should Know About Accommodations pages on the On Our Own resource group for more tips on how to become happily employed.
There are a handful of employment programs available for young adults living with mental health conditions who are interested in finding a job.
If you are interested in supported employment, ask your therapist, social worker, case manager, psychiatrist or other mental health professional to recommend an employment program in your area. Peers can also be a great resource for finding out about employment programs in your community.
Here are brief descriptions of the most common types of employment programs available in communities to help young people with mental health conditions job hunt:
- Vocational Rehabilitation Programs. Vocational rehabilitation programs provide assistance with transition from school to work and adult life. Vocational rehabilitation counselors help you to develop a transitional plan that identifies the steps needed to reach your goals. Services may include, but are not limited to, vocational evaluation and assessment, career counseling, job seeking/job retention counseling, job placement, follow-up after job placement, post-secondary education programs (college, university, vocational school and trade school), and training programs (supported employment, on-the-job training and unpaid work experience). To access information on Vocational Rehabilitation Programs available in each state visit the Social Security Administration’s Service Provider Directory.
- Supported Employment. Supported employment programs are designed to help you participate in the competitive labor market and are often integrated with treatment. The only eligibility requirement for supported employment programs is your expressed interest in working. Your strengths, capabilitiesand preferences are important in the job search. Employment specialists work with you to find a job that suits you and provide ongoing support after you score a job. Supported employment programs can include Clubhouses, which are community centers that provide people with mental health conditions opportunities to reach their full potential, or individual placement and support. This approach to employment has been found to be the most effective when compared with other approaches.
Additional Work Opportunities
If you’re looking for a learning opportunity, which may also include housing, you may want to consider participating in any of the three programs below. These programs can provide you with a chance to meet the local needs of communities while also providing you with skills development and opportunities to travel. Typically, as a participant of these programs you also receive a modest living allowance.
AmeriCorps is a network of three programs, including:
• AmeriCorps National and AmeriCorps State;
• AmeriCorps VISTA; and
• AmeriCorps*National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC)
Each program engages volunteers to meet critical needs in areas including education, the environment, public safety and homeland security. Program participants receive health coverage, training and student loan deferment during their time of service. In addition, they receive an education award to pay toward their education or student loans. About half of the participants receive a modest annual living allowance. For more information, check out the AmeriCorps Web site.
Job Corps has a network of campuses across the country. Job Corps offers a wide array of career development services to at-risk young adults, ages 16 to 24, to prepare them for successful careers. Job Corps integrates academic, vocational and independent skills development through a combination of classroom and practical, hands-on learning experiences to prepare youth for long-term, stable employment. Participants generally live on campus housing. For more information, check out the Job Corps Web site.
Peace Corps provides volunteers to countries around the world seeking assistance. Volunteers work with local governments, communities and schools to address critical needs in a wide array of areas including education, health, business, information technology, agriculture and the environment. Volunteers receive a living allowance that covers housing, food and incidentals, enabling them to live in a manner similar to people in their local communities. It’s important to know that the application process is quite extensive and competitive. Therefore, if you are interested you should plan ahead. For more information, check out the Peace Corps Web site.