Offering Hope to People with Mental Illness

Although the first Clubhouse began in the late 1940s, the Clubhouse model is not as well-known as more traditional rehabilitation programs for people experiencing mental illness. A Clubhouse provides opportunities to its members to lead more fulfilling, productive lives. By working together as valued participants, members develop friendships, regain a sense of belonging, and feel needed. Although there are core components of the Clubhouse model which are found throughout Clubhouses all over the world, the Clubhouse concept can be difficult to explain. That is why if you are interested in becoming a member, the first step is to take a tour, so you can see firsthand how things work.


Clubhouse Components

Clubhouses are organized around the belief that work and relationships are key to recovery. Certified Clubhouses follow proven standards, which are effective in helping people with mental illness to reach their goals. The components include:


Work-Ordered Day

The daily activity at a Clubhouse is similar to any work place, consisting of eight hour days, Monday through Friday. Members and staff work side-by-side, performing work for the Clubhouse. Members are encouraged to participate as they are ready, and quickly become relied upon. Typical daily work includes: planning and preparing lunch for Clubhouse colleagues, maintaining attendance and accounting records for billing purposes, and communications about Clubhouse events, employment celebrations, and membership tours.


Employment and Education

The Transitional Employment Program assists members to return to work with the support of the Clubhouse, both on- and off-site. Transitional Employment placements are at local businesses, are part-time, and last approximately six months. The Independent Employment Program provides ongoing support at the Clubhouse to members who are seeking work or who are working permanent jobs. Clubhouses also offer various educational opportunities.

Someone with a Disability

As of March 24, 2014, the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) implemented the Final Rule on Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Some say this is a “game changer” for increasing opportunities for individuals with disabilities to get back into and remain in the workforce. With all of the hype surrounding the revisions, you might be wondering, “what does it all mean?”

After several webinars, trainings, and article research, here is what I can tell you about Section 503 and what it means for you as an individual with a disability.


What is Section 503?

Under Section 503, businesses with at least 50 employees and $50,000 or more in federal contracts must take affirmative action to increase the number of people with disabilities that they employ.

The Final Rule encourages federal contractors and subcontractors to have at least 7% of positions in each job category held by qualified individuals with disabilities. This means that contractors will apply this 7% goal to each job category and if the contractor has 100 or fewer employees, the 7% goal will apply to the entire workforce.


What does this mean?

In order to achieve the Section 503 goal of hiring 7% of positions by individuals with disabilities, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) estimates that Federal contractors would need to hire an additional 594,580 individuals with disabilities.


How will employers do this?

One way federal contractors will be able to meet the 7% utilization goal is by encouraging applicants and current employees to disclose that they are an individual with a disability.

Formerly, employers were prohibited from making disability-related inquiries prior to an employment offer under the Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). However, Section 503 allows the employer to invite applicants to voluntarily self-identify as having a disability. The 503 Final Rule requires that contractors offer applicants the opportunity to self-identify as individuals with disabilities (IWDs) at both the pre- and post-offer stages of the application process.

However, contractors MUST use language prescribed by OFCCP. On online job postings, this voluntary self-identification section must be included with the race/gender information request.

Get a new or better job

It’s not surprising that one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions is to “Get a new or better job.” Whether you want to start working, are searching for a new job to advance your career, or even if you aren’t sure what to do next. A lot of us have been there. Just going through the motions and wishing for something better. Change is hard, but, not making a change is hard too.

Fortunately, the Manpower Employment Outlook Survey shows a positive trend in U.S. hiring plans for Quarter 1 of 2015. With employment opportunities increasing, it’s a good time to look for a new or better job. But how do you set yourself apart from other applicants? In our Get a New or Better Job series, I will explore all aspects of the job search including finding opportunities, the application process, interviewing tips, and communication techniques. Many real or perceived barriers may be standing in the way of you and your employment goals, but, job search tools and techniques don’t have to be some of them.

Let’s not kid ourselves; job searching can be time consuming, challenging, and at times discouraging. My goal is to discuss some important aspects of job searching in 2015 with the hopes of leaving you informed, prepared, and optimistic for the future.

Furthermore, out of 168 hours in a week, about ¼ of them are spent at work for full-time workers. This means each year we spend about 2,080 hours at work. I don’t know about you but I want to love what I do, where I do it and the people I’m surrounded by when doing it. Shouldn’t that be an option for everyone? I certainly think so. So let me help you make the change you want and deserve.