Purposeful activity, either paid employment or volunteer work, is, perhaps, the most important rehabilitation therapy for the recovery of an individual with serious mental illness. The trauma of a psychotic break and the stigma of psychiatric hospitalization severely damages a person's self-esteem, and often causes a demoralization which is misinterpreted by uneducated outsiders as laziness. Supported employment services provided by the Community Rehabilitation and Treatment (CRT) programs of Community Mental Health Centers (CMHCs) are helpful in getting many clients back on their feet and on the job.
Vocational counseling and supported employment services are not considered sufficiently medical to be covered by Medicaid funding. CMHCs must rely on state grant funds (largely from the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation) to provide employment services to individuals with psychiatric disabilities. People with mental illness often have professional and technical skills which are suited to many jobs.
To be eligible for vocational rehabilitation services, an individual must have a physical or mental impairment that constitutes or results in a substantial impediment to employment. An eligible individual must also require special Vocational Rehabilitation help in order to prepare for and obtain gainful employment.
To determine eligibility, rehabilitation counselors are assisted by medical, psychological, and vocational evaluations. The results assist the client and counselor in deciding on a vocational goal and developing action plans and timetables for reaching that goal. Typical services that can be provided include vocational counseling, job placement, training, and supported employment.
The Client Assistance Program (CAP) assists people who have questions about rehabilitation services or who may have problems with the vocational rehabilitation services they receive. CAP staff will assist with concerns about rehabilitation programs and will try to bring them to a fair conclusion. Any present, past or potential Vocational Rehabilitation client may request Client Assistance services by calling toll free: (800) 769-9164 (Voice/TDD).
The collaboration of the CMHCs and the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation is an essential component in developing effective work opportunities for people with serious, long-term mental illness.
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