About the workbook
Seeking Supported Employment: What You Need to Know is a workbook designed to help people learn about what supported employment is, and decide whether they’d like to receive services from a supported employment program. It also guides users through a process to identify a program with the types of services that research shows help people get and keep jobs.
Research shows that supported employment is effective in helping people with disabilities find competitive jobs. Competitive jobs are positions that anyone can apply for and that pay minimum wage or greater. Studies also show that supported employment works better for people with psychiatric disabilities than other vocational programs, like sheltered workshops or transitional employment. The workbook educates users about these different types of programs and helps them decide which is right for them. Then, it helps users rate supported employment programs by visiting them and asking staff specific questions about what the program offers. Based on staff responses, users then compute a score that summarizes the degree to which the program contains the active ingredients of the supported employment model.
Who can use it?
This workbook is for people who have a mental illness or who have found it hard to get and keep jobs because of mental health or related issues. Other people have found the workbook to be useful as well, including people with other types of disabilities and people wanting to return to the workforce after long periods of unemployment.
Many people with emotional problems want to work but don’t know how to find services that will help them get and keep high quality, career-enhancing employment. They may not feel capable of holding these kinds of jobs, due to prior negative work experiences or because they face stigma and discrimination in hiring and employment. If this describes you or the people you work with or care about, then this workbook may be useful.
How does it work?
Seeking Supported Employment is a self-guided workbook, but it also has been used by clients working with their service providers, and by groups of people in peer-run behavioral health programs, community mental health centers, inpatient units, and psychiatric rehabilitation programs. It can be used anywhere that a person or a group wants to learn more about different types of employment services and what really works to help people in mental health recovery find and keep good jobs.
After reading about different employment service programs and ways to go about finding work, users are guided through the decision-making process of whether they want a competitive job and whether or not to enter a supported employment program. Once they decide to find such a program and identify ones in their local area, they are encouraged to schedule an appointment to visit the program and speak with staff. During that visit, users are instructed to ask staff 19 questions about what kinds of clients are served and whether specific services are offered. After visiting the program, users add up the score for each question to arrive at a total score. The score indicates whether the program meets the basic requirements of the supported employment model, and if so, the extent to which it offers other services that research shows are effective in promoting satisfying, long-lasting employment.
The workbook is 22 pages long and should be downloaded and printed for use. It is written at a grade school reading level.
What resources are needed?
A computer and printer are required to download and print the workbook.
What experience is needed?
No experience is needed to use the workbook.
Preparing to use the workbook
Anyone can pick up and use Seeking Supported Employment. Helpful preparation tips include:
1. Read the entire workbook before deciding whether to look for a supported employment program.
2. If using the workbook on your own, consider involving at least one person who will support you in this process.
3. When scheduling an appointment at a supported employment program, tell staff that you are visiting in order to learn about the program, not to join it immediately.
4. Because this is a time to get all of your questions answered in an unhurried manner, ask if the appointment can last an hour. If not, tell the staff you will need at least a half hour.
5. Practice asking the 19 questions by reading them out loud to yourself or a friend. Alternatively, you can print or copy the list of questions to give to staff. As they respond to each question, you can write the answer in your workbook.
6. Thank the staff member for taking the time to meet with you.
7. Plan to do the scoring after you have left the interview.