Indiana chosen as a pilot for the Federal Psychological Well being Employment Initiative

The Department of Labor seals a flag flying in front of federal headquarters in Washington DC - Justin Hicks / IPB News

The Department of Labor seals a flag that flies outside the federal headquarters in Washington DC

Justin Hicks / IPB

is one of seven states selected to lead a federal initiative to increase employment for people with mental illness. The Department of Labor calls it the “ASPIRE” initiative, short for “Advancing Policy Integration for Recovery and Employment”.

The aim is to help people with mental illness get and stay jobs that give them competitive wages in a traditional workplace. Indiana does not receive federal funding, but does receive “technical assistance” to carry out a statewide plan.

The push is being led by the State Family and Social Services Administration, bringing together both and private entities across the state. The FSSA will pursue an “individual placement and support model” for workers with mental illness and will update a website with more information in the coming weeks.

Jennifer Sheehy, assistant assistant secretary for the Office of Disability Employment Policy, said many states had applied, but reviewers were impressed that Indiana’s application saw employment as a natural step in recovery.

“It sounded like a very holistic approach, not only dealing with the person but also within the state structure,” she said.

She said the initiative covers all types of mental illness and could be another tool for restoring jobs after a pandemic.

“People are talking about mental health now,” she said. “Because of the pandemic, the prevalence of people with mental illness has increased so dramatically.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness estimates that around 80 percent of those who receive public mental health benefits in Indiana are unemployed.

In a letter to DOL, the Department of Workforce Development said it had also committed to working with the FSSA’s Mental Health and Addiction Department on the initiative.

Contact reporter Justin at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @Hicks_JustinM.

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