I recently met a person who shared their recovery narrative at a State Psychiatric Hospital. This individual had spent several years at a forensic facility and just as many years at another State Psychiatric hospital. In spite of seven years of state level psychiatric services the person appeared to transcend institutionalization through self-discovery and a sense of inner peace. This person has a vision to work as a Peer Provider (Specialist). They credit their vocational pursuit to learning to manage past victimization (trauma experiences) and own behaviors of anger and blaming others. This person expressed wanting to be a contributing member of society. Knowing the state hospital is not a home they graciously acknowledged the support from administration, direct service staff, clinicians, and peers who continue to aid his/her recovery.
I was so encouraged by this individual’s steadfast resilience I eagerly approached offering my peer support. The person was delighted to inform me about their pending discharge. We then discussed employment opportunities, consumer (peer) training, the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (DVRS), Supported Employment Services (SES) and Supported Education (SEd). These state level treatment services of respect, dignity, and hope helped preserve this individual’s belief in employment as a major tool for discharge planning and community integration.
George H. Brice, Jr.
This post focuses on how oral healthcare impacts vocational pursuits the last of a three-part series on ORAL HEALTH that began with discussing, the importance of partnering, collaborating and identifying strategies, interventions, and resources to better engage people living with psychiatric disorders about their oral hygiene and Part II how oral healthcare impacts socialization. Based on attending a university colloquium presented by Associate Professor, Dr. Vaishali Singhal called, “Oral Implications of Psychiatric Disorders” I wanted to research more about the vocational implications regarding a lack of oral healthcare not limited to people living with mental illness and/or addiction concerns. While researching I was reminded about a presentation with a colleague on “Wellness and Recovery.”
During the presentation we were informed about a program participant who was receiving pre-vocational services at a partial care program. This person was very active in employment related activities on site, such as identifying work goals, developing a résumé, and practicing interviewing skills. After many months, staff learned that the person was not applying for jobs because he was ashamed and reluctant to mention his missing two front teeth were an emotional, physical, and financial barrier. This article called, “Do missing teeth affect job seekers?” was informative and resourceful. The author Lori Herbert had thoughtfully and empathetically described people’s plight to improve their teeth in a society that seems to usually value physical appearance. Furthermore, she offered potentially reduced dental cost resources to explore in one’s own state. These types of dental circumstances can cause perceived and real challenges of:
- Low self esteem
- Feeling ashamed
- Isolation and loneliness
According to a report from February 29, 2012 called, “Dental Crisis in America/The Need to Expand Access,” the U.S. Surgeon General’s report, “Oral Health in America,” was cited as stating: students missed 51 million hours of school and employed adults lose more than 164 million hours of work each year due to dental disease or dental visits. I believe you will find the report an insightful read addressing the complexities of accessing oral healthcare for all people and strategies and interventions to help lessen the problem. The U.S. Surgeon General (2000) referred to dental disease as a “silent epidemic.”
What areas of the three-part series on Oral Hygiene did you find most important? Share how you will use these strategies and interventions personally and professionally?
George H. Brice, Jr.
The following vignette illustrates a fictitious problem and event. Any likeness to people, services, or other circumstance is purely coincidental.
You are an Employment Specialist with a residential program and are enthusiastic about a potential job lead for one of the individuals receiving services. The job is an automotive technician at a local repair shop. The person’s skills are a bit rusty because he hasn’t worked in a while, but he has a certificate in automotive repair. He received this certificate several years ago and hasn’t really had a chance to use it because he hasn’t worked in a “real” job since 2002. Recently, he has been sporadically helping out a friend who fixes cars in the neighborhood. He really wants to work and this job lead you secured meets all of his criteria—close to his house, part-time with the potential to turn full-time, working independently, good pay, and vacation time. This would be the PERFECT job. One small problem, your supervisor insists that the person “cannot handle” the pressures of working. After discussing this perfect job lead during a weekly supervision meeting, you are told not to work with this person on anything employment related. If you were the Employment Specialist, what would you do? Please comment on how you would handle this situation.
The Work and Recovery Video project is a collection of videos illustrating the important and instrumental role that work plays in the recovery process. People with the lived experience of mental illness, providers of services, administrators, family members, friends and others are invited to talk about their perspectives on the role of employment and/or education in recovery and overall quality of life. For a more detailed discussion of the narrative sharing process and the impact this sharing can have on others, please read George Brice’s blog article, “Why Share our Personal Recovery Narratives: A Tool for Respect!” at https://vocationalvoice.com/2012/09/18/why-share-our-personal-recovery-narratives-a-tool-for-respect/
The Work and Recovery videos will be used for educational purposes, professional development, advocacy, and motivational purposes. New videos will be added on a regular basis. If you or someone you know is interested in telling a work and recovery story and having it available for others to see, please contact Joni Dolce at 856-566-2772 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
George shares his story of recovery and the important role that work has played in his life. He discusses his struggles to complete college and the feelings of envy as he compared his accomplishments to those around him. As George continued his career journey, these feelings of envy gave way to those of pride and success as he continued to achieve the goals he set for himself. George recalls a time when he was receiving services and a peer came to speak about his own recovery and the valued roles he held in his life. This moving story provided George with the informative nudge needed to return to school and embark on a life of career success. He refers to this moment as the “light bulb going off.” This is a good reminder of the influence we can have on one another.
Don’t miss our new training: Narrative Approach to Career Development! It’s part of the Career Development Training Series in the advanced track. The training will be held on 1/23/13 from 9:45am-4pm at UMDNJ’s Stratford campus. For more information or to sign up for this new training please go to our website.
From the Trainer:
People in recovery pursuing their career goals confront many challenges, however, confronting challenges while pursuing career goals is not unique to people with psychiatric illness. How did you get to where you are today? Chances are it was a process, or as more recent career development theorists Drs. Cochran and Savickas contend, it is the story of your career!
This interactive training will teach providers how to help individuals they work with reframe their thinking about themselves in regard to their careers. Attendees will develop their own career narrative during this training, and be provided with tools to help people in recovery develop a career narrative that will be empowering and assist with choosing a career path.