Mental Health Association Launches New Return To Work Program

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JAMESTOWN, NY (WNY News Now) – The Chautauqua County Mental Health Association was awarded a half a million dollars this week for a new recovery program, to help prepare those struggling with addiction to return to the workforce.

The “ARC” project allows the MHA to work with local businesses to accept and welcome new employees in recovery. 

“Part of my job as the Program Director is to do the outreach, to go to the businesses and talk to them,“ explained Director Sean Jones. “About what they’re looking for in employees, but also talking to employees that they already have that might need help. Also going out into the community into different areas such as rehabs or the clinics to talk with the participants there, to see what they need and how I can help them.”

One facet of the ARC program has MHA working alongside community partner St. Luke’s Episcopal Church to create their St. Bernard’s Blessed dog biscuits and develop skills in doing so. 

“We will use the making of these biscuits, the marketing of the biscuits, the packaging, the selling as a classroom to teach people skills that they can then take and then go back to work,“ explained Executive Director of the MHA Steven Cobb.

This program extends even further with the Mental Health Association reaching out to incarcerated individuals to shorten the gap between release and getting back to normalcy.

“We’re actually going to be able to go into the Chautauqua County Jail and begin to do some work with the inmates that will be transitioning out, so we can begin to get them setup to shorten that gap between when you’re released and when you go back to work,“ explained Cobb.

The first step is to break the common misconceptions surrounding recovery.

“Getting rid of that stigma is, you know, everyone wants help,“ said Jones. “It’s as Steven says, approaching it in a radical way, with love, and kindness, and acceptance, and helping to guide people through the process, as opposed to pushing them through the process.”  

In the end, recovery leaders believe that the MHA is going to help a lot of people with this new program and the best is yet to come.


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