MENTAL HEALTH

Program connects those who struggle with mental health to employers

Jun 12, 2024, 7:32 AM | Updated: Jul 1, 2024, 8:58 am

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SALT LAKE CITY — A sector of Utah’s Department of Health and Human Services is connecting those who struggle with mental illnesses with employers, to aid in their recovery. With Individual Placement and Support (IPS) offices across the state, they help those who have suffered from mental health crises or a co-occurring substance use disorder, find a job and keep it.

Sharon Cook, the supported employment administrator for the Utah Department of Health and Human Services Office of Substance Use and Mental Health, said they are reducing the stigma that people with mental health struggles cannot hold down a job, or it may not be good for them.

“When they are working in competitive, integrated, and even meaningful employment settings, they may have an increased sense of self-purpose, and higher self-esteem and confidence,” Cook said. “We’ve seen improved quality of life, and reduced symptoms.”

Cook said this program also reduces the long-term costs of treatment throughout the state. 

“[We see] a reduction in psychiatric hospitalization days…a decrease in emergency room usage and justice involvement,” Cook said. “When individuals with mental health conditions return to work, they are producing huge long-term savings in mental health treatment costs.”

The department is not just for providing support to the employee though. Employers also benefit from having the support of the DHHS.

“Employers are getting a whole team approach in helping support the person who was hired, which is assisting their retention,” Cook said.

Cook went on to say they encourage employers who may be skeptical about causing stress for someone who has struggled with mental health, by explaining the only thing more stressful than employment, is unemployment.

Related: Artificial intelligence may be able to help with your mental health

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Program connects those who struggle with mental health to employers