Bridgeways, Compass Health partner to help adults living with mental illness find jobs

May 23, 2012

Since late 2008, Snohomish County’s unemployment rate has hovered between 8 and 9 percent. It is difficult to find any segment of our community that has not felt the pain associated with high unemployment.

Unfortunately, there is a slice of our community that consistently suffers from the spectacularly high unemployment rate of 90 percent: adults living with mental illness.

Bridgeways and Compass Health have developed a new partnership designed to help more people engaged in recovery-based mental health services tap into an employment program that breaks down barriers to finding and keeping a job.

In response to the unique challenge people living with mental illness face when it comes to employment, Bridgeways launched a program in late 2010, offering supported employment services to its own clients.

This program assists individuals with finding and maintaining meaningful jobs – taking into account each individual’s skills, abilities, challenges, and preferences,” said Donna Konicki, CEO of Bridgeways. “Participants receive professional assistance and support to find, maintain, and succeed in the competitive workforce.”

In the first year of the program, Bridgeways has helped clients find good jobs in fields such as medical billing, janitorial, housekeeping, construction, shipping and receiving, and retail.

Now, with the new partnership, these employment services will also be accessible to clients from Compass Health’s Lynnwood clinic. Several have already begun the hard work of finding a job.

“Initially, we look to provide employment services to ten Compass clients,” said Tom Sebastian, CEO of Compass Health. “We’ll be looking at ways to open up these services to more of our clients throughout Snohomish County, and are thrilled to build on our other partnerships with Bridgeways.”

Evidence indicates that stable employment contributes not only to increased income, but also improved self-esteem, increased quality of life, reduced symptoms, and fewer hospitalizations.

Founded in 1981, Bridgeways (www.brigeways.org) serves adults in Snohomish County living with mental illness. An array of clinical services, housing and employment programs help clients succeed with their recovery efforts, build self-sufficiency and thrive in the community.

In addition to the supported employment services, Bridgeways’ production shop generates internal employment opportunities for adults living with mental illness. The shop supplies high-quality products to aerospace, electronics and pharmaceutical markets.

Compass Health (www.compasshealth.org) has been providing services since 1902. Beginning as an orphanage serving homeless and parent-less children in Everett, Compass now provides a comprehensive continuum of behavioral health and social services to more than 12,000 community members in Snohomish, Skagit, Island and San Juan counties.

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