Frequently Asked Questions
Peer Support and role modeling during the choosing stage could be extremely helpful.
Working peers can be role models for others who are still struggling with employment. Your family member may still be ambivalent about working, but the Peer may help your family member to get past the ambivalence. The Peer can also provide helpful information, encouragement, and share a personal story of their own vocational choosing.
In order to find a peer professional, you might ask the Dept. of Mental Health or its providers, consult a peer run program, Peer Specialists, a Supported Employment program, a Clubhouse program, recovery program or contact the program in your state that trains peers to become providers. That agency is likely to know where Peers are working and if they are in your area.
If you’re interested in locating a peer provider, please call your state’s Dept. of Mental Health or check with training providers.
Coming prepared for services is a good strategy to preventing problems in the process. (ICI) Should your family member apply for vocational rehabilitation services from the state agency or a private agency, your family member may think that the denial is based on incorrect information. If this is so, you can usually file an appeal. Your family member should be ready to provide any documentation that would help to support the appeal. If you think that the decision was somewhat subjective, it might help for your family member to send a letter stating why that service is so important and what they will do to make the experience successful. This may help the program to reconsider. If your family member is, in fact, not eligible (due to actual issues such as residency, age or failure to meet certain criteria) you could ask the program to recommend another resource.
If your family member is denied a service such as supported employment because they do not meet criteria, they may be able to appeal that decision. It is helpful to know from the start what the exact criteria are and if there is a wait list. The more information you have about the service, the more you can prepare or increase the chances of being accepted. The state Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies have several possible review mechanisms including a review, a hearing and Client Assistance Program. (USDOE)
Sometimes you will find that in order to be accepted into one program, you have to belong to or be a “client” of another. For example, the Dept. of Mental Health might require you to first meet criteria for the Dept.of Mental Health before being accepted in the employment program. Another example is you might have to be in treatment at a certain mental health center to be eligible for their employment service because the vocational specialists are part of a “treatment team” such as Individual Placement and Support model. (Dartmouth)
If my family member chooses to attend an education or training program, could they end up with student debt and no job?
Getting good financial aid information and support is very important before starting an educational or training program. There are scholarships and grants available for many education institutions and state Vocational Rehabilitation agencies can often provide tuition waivers or tuition payments. There may also be student employment at the college or university. The idea is to minimize debt for the student.
Your family member/student may want to have services from the Disabled Students Supports. (AHEAD) The student should keep close touch with the financial aid office as well, and the family should review the financial picture EVERY semester to be sure that maximum resources are being used and that the individual student is getting the support needed to get through the academic program. Education and training programs should be selected based on the interests and abilities of the student but also based on the probability of obtaining employment at graduation. Don’t wait until graduation to consider the employment options, but pursue placement resources throughout the process. (McMullen) Without employment after graduation or withdrawal from school, loans can increase in interest rates and become a great burden.
Student employment can also help to stretch the dollars for education. The best place to look for student employment is through the school/college placement office. Some students who have federally supported college loans can access work study jobs that are federally subsidized. Colleges like to hire work study students since they can be good employees and also their wages are subsidized by the federal government.
Another important factor in selecting an education or training program is to be sure that the training institution is really reputable, established and accredited. Your family member should be especially careful with for-profit schools when getting financial aid/loan information. Local workforce development service providers, generally through America’s Career Centers may provide free training to fill local workforce needs.
Young people in this 18-25 age group do have special challenges such as:
- Discontinuation of some of the services and structures that are no longer there
- Inadequacy of the post high school supports and services in relation to the needs of this age group
- Disincentive of going onto public benefits
- Availability of substances that interfere with recovery
- Failure of systems to strongly support post secondary education training and employment
- Transportation shortfalls
Additionally, barriers related to psychiatric disability in young adults include:
- Lack of self esteem
- Lack of confidence
- Stigma and discrimination
- Financial and transportation limitations
- Interpersonal difficulties (Ellison)
However, many public mental health authorities in the U.S. have developed specialized services for young people such as peer mentoring, peer counseling, case management, youth oriented housing, socialization and employment. These are just a few resources available nationally.
The National Collaborative on Workforce Development created this free guide to help new grads plan their lives after high school.
Transitions collaborators have created this list of material from both inside and outside of the organization. Its content is for consumers, family members, mental health and social service providers, policy-makers, and advocates.
This training module from Job Accommodation Network has a new, 18 minute, just-in-time training module designed to provide information for youth about their rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act as well as to help young people navigating their way from the school system to post-secondary education, training, or the world of work.
In this TED Talk, Jessica Gimeno talks about employment and growing up with depression and physical disabilities.