Overwhelmed with anxiety from job searching. Confident in her ability to work. Occupational Development Center (ODC). client, Christine Froehler did not let her anxiety and depression stop her from finding a job and contributing to her community.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), nearly 40 million people in the United States are diagnosed with anxiety; of those 40 million people, half are also diagnosed with depression.
The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED)’s Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VRS) Division has addressed workforce issues for persons living with serious mental illness through a program called, Individual Placement and Support (IPS).
IPS provides a team of five people that work with each client to assess their skills, needs, and choices for employment. The IPS team provides support to ensure that a transition back to the workforce is smooth, allowing the client to gain confidence as he or she continues to pursue their career.
One month ago, Froehler, was placed in the IPS program, allowing her to work directly with ODC IPS Specialist, Tara Ripplinger.
“Christine was a perfect fit for our IPS Program,” Ripplinger said. “I worked with Christine to refresh her resume and interview skills before applying for her current.”
Timothy Grace, owner, of Value Smart Retail Consignment, was looking for someone interested in helping pre-sort the many bags of clothing that come in for consignment each week.
Grace, who admitted he was a little hesitant about working with ODC due to concerns about long training periods said the entire process from interview, hiring and training was a breeze.
“I was concerned about how long I thought training might take but, I was completely wrong,” Grace said. “Christine is an excellent fit for us here at Value Smart and has already contributed some great ideas that will help us streamline our process.”
“Tim, Nicole and everyone here at Value Smart make me feel like I am valued part of the team,” Froehler said as she sorted through a pile of children’s clothes.
Froehler, who was overly stressed and constantly anxious due to the few hours at her last job said it feels great to be able to work part time.
“I feel great,” said Froehler. “I am not stressed and I feel very confident here.”
“Every time I have called to check in or visit, I can see the happiness and security return,” Ripplinger said proudly. “I am very proud of Christine and how much she has grown in the last month.”
Froehler, who admits she struggled to find a job by herself, feels she has found a perfect fit and is happy to call Value Smart her place of employment.
In Executive Order 14-14, “the Governor’s Workforce Development Council identified individuals with disabilities as an underutilized source of talent necessary to meet workforce needs…the State of Minnesota has the responsibility to ensure that its workforce reflects the diversity of the state’s population and is able to meet projected workforce shortages by ensuring all qualified individuals are recruited and retained.”
ODC is thankful for businesses such as, Value Smart, that open their companies to the opportunities to work with the many talented and able-bodied clients at ODC.
The ODC is a nonprofit social enterprise that specializes in providing employment skills and opportunities to individuals with disabilities across northern Minnesota. For more information regarding how you or your business can partner with the ODC or the IPS Program to support individuals with disabilities or mental illness continue to pursue their careers please visit: www.odcmn.org or call at 218.751.6001
To learn more about Mental Health Month visit: www.mentalhealthamerica.net/may.