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Program Information

The Consumer & Business Outreach Program is a statewide initiative designed to improve the employment opportunities of individuals living with psychiatric disabilities. This objective is achieved through a multi-prong approach to:

  • Educate the community, with specific focus on employers and the workplace, about the importance of mental health
  • Inform clinicians and service providers of the significant contributions employment offers to recovery, independence, and quality of life
  • Through the creation of state and local Business Advisory Councils (BACs), foster private-public partnerships among the business community, MHA affiliates, State and County agencies, and other stakeholders committed to workforce development for people with psychiatric disabilities
  • Promote evidence-based best practices in supported employment provided either through our affiliates or community partners. Supported employment services offer a person-centered approach to with a team of job coaches, vocational specialists, and job developers to assist job-seekers assess their skills, develop resumes, search for jobs, and prepare for interviews with employers

Program History

Early efforts to address the alarming 85-92% unemployment gap of individuals living with mental health disabilities concentrated on gathering information from the business community. The Program Director worked in collaboration with the MHA affiliates in Monroe, Orange, Onondaga, and Albany Counties to identify the needs, concerns, and perceptions of employers and the business community in employing and retaining employees living with mental illness. Employers freely shared their attitudes, experiences, and needs regarding mental health in the workplace. While expressing a willingness to “give people a chance,” the majority of employers identified a need for education and information on mental health in order to make hiring and retaining this segment of the untapped labor force a viable option. Outreach efforts to employers offered a series of targeted trainings on topics ranging from the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to accommodations in the workplace.

From these initial information gathering sessions, efforts shifted to the development of community-based Business Advisory Councils recruiting members from the business community, VESID, Department of Labor, and stakeholders with a vested interest in workforce development to build partnerships with MHA affiliates.

For information on mental health and the workplace, call the Consumer & Business Outreach Program at (518) 434-0439, ext. 224 or by e-mail at

ph. 518-434-0439 fax 518-427-8676