SC Department of Mental Health News Release

July 21, 2005
For Immediate Release
Contact: John Hutto

                Sharon Kelley

Mental Health and Vocational Rehabilitation Partner to Help People with Mental Illness Join the Workforce

Columbia, SC – The S.C. Department of Mental Health (SCDMH) and the S.C. Vocational Rehabilitation Department (SCVRD) have received an award of recognition for their participation in the Johnson & Johnson – Dartmouth Community Mental Health Program to help people with mental illness join the workforce.  Many people with serious mental illness are returning to work through the use of evidence-based supported employment. SCDMH and SCVRD are partnering to implement this effective vocational approach to help people with psychiatric disabilities obtain employment.

The award recognized programs at Berkeley Community Mental Health Center (Moncks Corner), Charleston/Dorchester Community Mental Health Center, Columbia Area Mental Health Center, Pee Dee Mental Health Center (Florence), Waccamaw Center for Mental Health (Conway), and Santee-Wateree Community Mental Health Center (Sumter).

SCVRD employment specialists help locate potential employment opportunities and employers, and SCDMH provides mental health support. Job coaches are available to assist clients in learning jobs and also give ongoing vocational support.

“Forming partnerships to address mutual issues helps state agencies serve citizens more effectively,” said John Connery, interim director, SCDMH. “Vocational Rehabilitation is truly a community partner with DMH,” he said.

“We are all working together toward the employment and recovery of individuals with mental illness,” said Larry Bryant, SCVRD commissioner. “Supported employment blends the strengths of both our systems and had led to more successful jobs for people with disabilities.”

South Carolina is one of seven states participating in the Johnson & Johnson – Dartmouth Community Mental Health Program. The national program was developed by the New Hampshire-Dartmouth  Psychiatric Research Center and is sponsored by the Johnson & Johnson Division of Corporate Contributions.

Supported employment has consistently been more successful in helping people with mental illness to get and keep competitive jobs in their communities, but fewer than five percent of people who have a serious mental illness have access to these services. The NH-Dartmouth Psychiatric Research Center provides training and technical assistance to state mental health and vocational rehabilitation supported employment trainers who providing training to local sites. 

The Johnson & Johnson-Dartmouth Community Mental Health Program is a Signature Initiative that advances the Johnson & Johnson commitment to healthy communities.  The company is dedicated to funding programs that will have a lasting impact – building communities and helping people lead more productive lives.

“Using this model, states can help people with serious mental illness reclaim their lives,” said Rick Martinez, M.D., medical director, Corporate Contributions, Johnson & Johnson.  “Services such as these not only help people find meaningful employment, but also build self-esteem and improve their quality of life.” 

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