A few weeks ago I was on one of my favorite sites, Upworthy, when I came across a story called What’s it like living with mental illness? Ask Wil Wheaton. It included an amazing video in which actor Wil Wheaton talks about his experience with mental illness and introduced me to a non-profit organization called Project UROK!
Founded in 2014 (launched spring 2015) by 20-something comedian, Jenny Jaffe, their “mission is to create funny, meaningful videos for teenagers struggling with mental health issues, made by people who have been there before.” They aim to develop an online community to provide teens living with mental illness a sense of hope and belonging. My favorite part of the site, the video section (which I binge watched), has videos by celebrities as well as users. Project UROK! promotes acceptance, empowerment, and changing the conversation about mental illness all things IEI stands firmly behind!
On April 10, 2013, the Cape May County Employment Consortium, a group of key employment and mental health services stakeholders, hosted its annual Employment Summit at the Elks Club in North Wildwood, NJ. One of our faculty members, George Brice, Jr., Instructor in the Integrated Employment Institute gave a heartfelt, motivational keynote address on the important role that employment has played in his recovery from serious mental illness. Many attendees, who also live with mental illness, were moved and touched by George’s story. Others have heard George speak in the past and shared with the group that George’s inspiring words motivated and enabled them to move forward in their lives and live beyond the label of mental illness. George continued throughout the event to speak with individuals personally and to provide encouragement to them in their own recovery journeys. One attendee was so inspired that she wrote an editorial piece for the Cape May County Herald newspaper about the event and George’s encouraging message. The link to the article is: http://www.capemaycountyherald.com/article/91593-employment%2Bsummit%2Boffers%2Bhope%2Bdisabled?utm_source=dpcs&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=sendToFriend.
The day also included presentations from a Social Security Benefits planner as well as local education and employment programs. Participants provided positive feedback about the event and presenters. Overall, this year’s Employment Summit was a success and attended by close to 80 individuals, including people with the lived experience of mental illness, providers, and family members.