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Turning Point receives participation award

July 18, 2005

Turning Point of Washington County has received an award for its 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.

Locally, Turning Point of Washington County and the local Maryland Division of Rehabilitation Services (DORS) office are partnering to implement this vocational approach to help people with psychiatric disabilities obtain employment in the Hagerstown area.

Supported employment services help people consider their vocational skills, preferences and experiences to identify their desired job type. Employment specialists help people in their job search to locate potential employment opportunities and employers. They then provide individualized support as needed to assist people in their work lives.

"Supported employment gave me the confidence to believe I could find a job; now I am not lying around the house, feeling depressed" said Crystal, a client helped by Turning Point of Washington County.

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"It's a wonderful benefit to the employer and the employee," said Michelle Dietrich of Michelle's Restaurant.

"Turning Point of Washington County (has) experienced incredible client outcomes and significant program growth as a result of adopting the principles of evidence-based supported employment," said Peter Shubiak, executive director of Turning Point of Washington County.

Stacie Cummins, a DORS counselor in the Hagerstown office, said, "The relationship between DORS and Turning Point of Washington County's supported employment program has been a positive one. It is a team approach that globally addresses other issues than just employment, (an approach) which ultimately leads to successful vocational outcomes."

Turning Point of Washington County and the DORS Hagerstown office have been participating in a consortium of employment agencies across seven states in a program called the Johnson & Johnson-Dartmouth Community Mental Health Program. In addition to Maryland, the other states are Connecticut, Kansas, Oregon, South Carolina and Vermont. The national program was developed by the New Hampshire-Dartmouth Psychiatric Research Center and sponsored by the Johnson & Johnson Division of Corporate Contributions.

In traditional rehabilitation programs, fewer than 15 percent of the people with serious mental illness obtain meaningful work. The supported employment model of vocational services has consistently demonstrated better outcomes in helping people with mental illness to get and keep competitive jobs in their communities, but fewer than 5 percent of people who have a serious mental illness have access to these services.

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