Health and Family Services Cabinet
Mental Health Grant Helps Put More Kentuckians to Work
Grant Aids Programs Focused on Supported Employment
The Department for Behavioral Health, Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities (BHDID) is working to help Kentuckians with serious mental illness obtain employment using a community mental health grant received earlier this year. Kentucky was one of 12 states to be awarded the Dartmouth/Johnson & Johnson grant, which totals $280,000.
Four pilot sites have been chosen to launch the employment initiative, including Four Rivers Behavioral Health, Communicare Inc., NorthKey Community Care and Comprehend Inc.
“The main goal of this program is to create a supported employment system that allows everyone to contribute to their community, no matter what the challenge,” said BHDID Commissioner Stephen Hall. “This program will help our community mental health centers (CMHCs) as they work with people with serious mental illness so they can enter the workforce, improve their quality of life and thrive in their own communities.”
In 2009, only 9.65 percent of adults with serious mental illnesses served by the CMHCs were employed in Kentucky, even though employment is viewed by mental health professionals as a central piece of an individual’s recovery process.
“We have seen individuals completely turn their lives around after receiving a job,” said Lou Kurtz, associate director for planning and best practices for BHDID.
The grant provides four years of funding for the program. As part of the award, states are expected to identify a state mental health authority and state vocational rehabilitation liaison, and a full-time supported employment trainer.
States funded under this initiative that utilize the evidence-based Supported Employment (SE) model, also known as Individual Placement and Supports (IPS), base their services on a number of core principles including the integration of mental health and the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR).
“The Dartmouth initiative fulfills a longtime dream for many people in both agencies to further expand supported employment in Kentucky,” said Carol Estes, OVR branch manager of supported employment services. “For a person with a serious mental illness, having a job brings a better quality of life, a valued role in society and an opportunity to contribute. We in OVR are very excited to partner with BHDID, and we're committed to seeing great success from this project.”
For more information on SE, contact Kurtz at (502) 564-4456.