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James Plastiras Director of Public Information New York State Office of Mental Health 518-474-6540 james.plastiras@omh.ny.gov

March 02, 2023

OMH Secures Federal Grant to Help Increase Employment Opportunities for People Living with Mental Illness

New York State has been awarded a technical assistance grant from the federal Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) that will help the State to increase employment opportunities and outcomes for people living with mental illness.

New York was one of just seven states to secure the Advancing State Policy Integration for Recovery and Employment (ASPIRE) grant, which provides states with expert consultation and technical assistance to develop and implement strategic plans to support and expand programs that help people living with disabilities find employment.

The NYS Office of Mental Health (OMH) applied for the grant together with the Department of Health (DOH) and the State Education Department’s office of Adult Career and Continuing Education Services-Vocational Rehabilitation (ACCES-VR).  

OMH Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan said, “Many people who are living with mental illness can and want to work, and stable employment can be an essential component of the recovery process.  But people with mental illness sometimes face barriers and need assistance in finding and maintaining employment. The expert advice and technical assistance we received through ASPIRE will help us implement proven policies to remove the barriers and help more people with mental illness find meaningful employment.”

Acting State Health Commissioner James McDonald said, “All too often getting and keeping a job can be challenging for people with mental illness, and they deserve our support.  With the help of this grant, New York State will be able to implement research-backed initiatives like Individual Placement and Support (IPS), a supported employment model that enables people with behavioral health disorders to secure worthwhile and steady employment of their choice.”

Board of Regents Chancellor Lester W. Young, Jr. said, “Employment instability can negatively impact anyone, but for those with mental illness, the effects can be especially damaging. By leveraging the technical assistance from the U.S. Department of Labor and proven employment models, we can create equitable access to employment for all New Yorkers. I thank the staff of the Department’s Adult Career and Continuing Education Services-Vocational Rehabilitation and our partner agencies for their work on this initiative.”

New York State Education Commissioner Betty A. Rosa said, “For many New Yorkers with mental illness, finding and obtaining long-term, meaningful employment can be difficult due to a lack of opportunities. The technical assistance provided by the U.S. Department of Labor, in concert with our collaboration across agencies, will enable us to find sustainable solutions to open doors and create opportunities for success for individuals with mental illness.”

The technical assistance provided through ASPIRE will help the state enhance Competitive Integrated Employment (CIE) outcomes for people living with mental illness.  CIE refers to regular jobs held by people with disabilities in typical workplace settings who earn the same wages as workers without disabilities performing the same or similar work.

The grant will provide New York with training and support to implement evidence-based programs such as Individual Placement and Support (IPS) which is a model of supported employment that helps people living with behavioral health conditions work at regular jobs of their choosing. IPS practices include rapid engagement to help job seekers obtain jobs, and are integrated with mental health treatment teams. Job supports are individualized and continue for as long as each worker wants and needs the support.


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