Mental Health Minnesota receives grant for ‘Steps to Employment’ program

Mental Health Minnesota has received an $80,000 grant from the Minnesota Department of Human Services to support peer-to-peer groups for people living with a serious mental illness who are interested in seeking employment. The grant is part of nearly $950,000 recently awarded as a part of a new disability services innovations grants program to support people with disabilities in the community.

Approximately one in 17 people live with a serious mental illness, and for many, symptoms of their illness have made employment difficult or nearly impossible. In fact, the unemployment rate for people living with serious mental illness (SMI) is more than 80%. Many have goals related to employment, but barriers remain to securing and maintaining employment, as well as being successful in their employment goals in both the short and long term.

“We know that meaningful employment can play an incredibly important role in mental health recovery,” said Shannah Mulvihill, executive director. “We believe that additional assistance and resources as people living with serious mental illness enter the workforce could be instrumental in their success and ensure that they truly have an equal opportunity in employment.”

The “Steps to Employment” groups will provide a unique peer-to-peer approach to employment readiness, addressing topics such as establishing realistic goals, addressing barriers, stress management, self-care, working as part of a team, handling conflict, and more. The groups will be facilitated by Certified Peer Support Specialists, will be time-limited (eight hours total), and are intended to serve as a complement to other employment programs and services offered across the state. The program’s peer-to-peer approach will help ensure that a comfortable, safe environment exists for people seeking support from others, as well as some of the “soft skills” needed to ensure that they are truly successful in their work.

“We are lucky to have many employment programs across Minnesota for people living with disabilities, but there are very few opportunities for a peer-to-peer approach used in employment, especially related to mental health,” said Mulvihill. “Living with a serious mental illness creates unique challenges to successful employment, and who knows that better than those who have found a way to conquer those obstacles?”

Mental Health Minnesota will be seeking partnering organizations that serve clients who could benefit from this program. The groups will be offered at no-cost, given the grant support received. Please contact Kim Lutes, Mental Health Minnesota’s program manager, at [email protected] for more information.