King County Mental Health Employment Services
Employment services are offered through King County's contracted mental health service providers. Every service provider is required to:
- offer employment services to consumers
- refer consumers to another mental health provider for employment services while continuing to provide all other services
How do I find a job?
Ask your mental health worker (your case manager or therapist) for assistance with employment. Also, ask that your employment goal is added to your treatment plan. (Treatment plans are also referred to as "Recovery Plans" or "Individualized Service Plans.")
What type of employment services are offered through mental health agencies?
Every employment program at a mental health center will offer:
- Education about the impact of employment on your Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and other benefits. Every agency has a designated benefits specialist. This benefits specialist can offer information about how employment will affect your benefits.
- An assessment of your skills, abilities, interests, goals and work history.
- Assistance with a referral and coordination with the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, if needed or requested.
- Assistance with job placement services, if requested.
- Ongoing support after you become employed so that you can keep your job.
The Social Security Administration has released the "2009 Red Book: A Summary Guide to Employment Supports for Individuals with Disabilities" under the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs. The Red Book serves as a general reference source about the employment-related provisions of SSDI and SSI programs for educators, advocates, rehabilitation professionals, and counselors who serve people with disabilities. It is available in English and Spanish at the following link: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/redbook/
Most consumers want to work but think they will be at risk for losing their SSI and medical benefits if they work. Employment specialists want you to know that it IS possible to go back to work and keep your SSI and medical benefits. In fact, you will actually have more money to spend and experience the benefits of being part of the working world. For more information, see Facts About Employment.
Will anyone hire me if I have a mental illness?
It is against the law to discriminate against someone because he/she has a mental illness. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects people who have mental illnesses from job discrimination. As long as you can show that you can do the job, you can compete and gain employment like anyone else. Ask the people helping you to find a job about the ADA and what protections it includes. See more about employment rights at Americans with Disabilities Act, the Washington State Division of Vocational Rehabilitation or Boston University Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation.
What is the value of working if I have a mental illness?
Research studies show that people who have a mental illness who go to work experience the following:
- Increased income
- Improved self esteem
- Improved ability to manage symptoms
- Increased quality of life
The King County Mental Health Plan encourages you to explore the benefits of employment and to ask your service provider about the employment services and supports that are available to you.
Washington State has created a new employment website with resources for people who receive SSI and SSDI: www.pathwaystoemployment.wa.gov. The website includes a Benefits Calculator, a Resume Builder, and Success Stories, among other resources. Click here for more information.