For Immediate Release
Johnson & Johnson grant funds S.C. mental health/VR program
The South Carolina departments of Mental Health and Vocational Rehabilitation have teamed up with Johnson & Johnson and the Dartmouth Partnership for Community Mental Health to support people with severe mental illness in their recovery process.
The state agencies are participating in a pilot program to help people with mental illness return to the workforce through supported employment services.
Meaningful employment is a major benchmark in recovery for people with chronic mental illnesses. Jobs not only give people an income for rent, transportation and food, they also provide purpose, direction and inner strength.
Last year, the New Hampshire-Dartmouth Psychiatric Research Center received a $200,000 grant from Johnson & Johnson to develop pilot programs in Sumter, SC, Montpelier, VT and Hartford, CT.
In Sumter, a four-member Mental Health/Vocational Rehabilitation team focuses on providing individualized, intensive services to people with severe mental illnesses.
Services include job search, job placement and on-the-job training as well as ongoing mental health support.
"Helping people with a mental illness get back to competitive work in their communities is part of the recovery process," said George Gintoli, director of the S.C. Department of Mental Health. "DMH and VR are committed to expanding this science-based practice to all South Carolinians living with severe and persistent mental illness."
Staff from Johnson & Johnson and Dartmouth conducted a thorough review of the progress of the pilot and SCVRD received the highest possible rating.
A successful first year in Sumter has led to the expansion of the program to Columbia, Charleston and Florence through an additional grant beginning in September.
The 19 people involved in the Sumter program are clients at both the Santee-Wateree Community Mental Health Center and the Sumter area office of the S.C. Vocational Rehabilitation Department. The team is composed of one job coach from each agency, a VR counselor and a program director from Mental Health.
The job coaches help clients find jobs that fit their preferences, abilities and experience and pay competitive wages in the community. Assistance may also include transportation and employer training. About half of the Sumter clients are now working as a result of the program.
"I am delighted that competitive employment, the mission of SCVRD, is so strongly valued by DMH as an essential part of the recovery process," said SCVRD Commissioner Larry C. Bryant. "With Mental Health's expertise in the disability of mental illness and VR's expertise in employment for people with disabilities, this partnership blends the strength of both systems."
David Lynde, program manager for the New Hampshire-Dartmouth Psychiatric Research Center, said, "The inventive and caring financial support of Johnson & Johnson has provided a catalyst to bring Vocational Rehabilitation and Mental Health together to support each other in a common mission--that of helping people with mental illness to further their recovery through work.
"Even in these challenging economic times, we are finding the collaboration between Vocational Rehabilitation and Mental Health translates into real work for people who want to be active contributors to their own well-being and their own communities."
Established in 1987, the New Hampshire-Dartmouth Psychiatric Research Center conducts interdisciplinary research on services for individuals who have severe mental illness, primarily schizophrenia and bipolar disorders.
Johnson & Johnson manufactures health care products for the consumer, pharmaceutical and professional markets.
The South Carolina Department of Mental Health has been serving the mental health needs of South Carolinians since 1821. Its 5,300 employees and 8,505 volunteers offer services from 17 community mental health centers and seven inpatient facilities statewide. (800) 763-1024. Web site: www.mentalhealth-recovery.com
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