Inclusive Member Experiences for
Individuals with Mental Health Issues
J E N N I F E R B Y E R LY | L I S A S T E R N
• Present (and dispel) the myths commonly
associated with mental health issues
• Learn how to create inclusive and welcoming
experiences for all members
• Gain a better understanding of Veterans living with
post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and/or
traumatic brain injury (TBI) and how service can be
an important part of their recovery and
Myths & Facts
Mental illness won’t affect me
• Mental illness is surprisingly common; they affect almost
every family in America. Mental illness does not
discriminate – it can affect anyone.
• In a given year approximately 25% of adults are
diagnosable for one or more disorders (approx. 50% over a
• While mental illness is widespread in the population, the
main burden of the disorder is concentrated among a much
smaller proportion (about 6 percent, or 1 in 17) who suffer
from a seriously debilitating mental illness.
People with mental illness are more prone to
violence and unpredictability
• In reality, the vast majority of people who have
mental health needs are no more violent than
anyone else. You probably know someone with a
mental illness and don't even realize it.
Mental illness is usually brought on by a
weakness of character
• Mental illness is a product of the interaction of
biological, psychological, and social factors.
Research has shown genetic and biological factors
are associated with schizophrenia, depression, and
• Social influences, such as loss of a loved one or a
job, can also contribute to the development of
various disorders.
People with mental illnesses cannot tolerate
the stress of holding down a job
• All jobs are stressful to some extent. Productivity is
maximized when there is a good match between
the employer (needs and working
conditions/environment) and the skill set and
interests of the employee – NOT whether the
individual has mental health needs.
• Employers who have hired people with mental illness report good
attendance and punctuality, as well as motivation, quality of work,
and job tenure on par with or greater than other employees.
• Studies by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the
National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) show that there are no
differences in productivity when people with mental illnesses are
compared to other employees.
Once people develop a mental illness,
they never recover
• Studies show that most people with mental
illnesses get better, and many recover completely.
• Recovery refers to the process in which people are
able to live, work, learn, and participate fully in
their communities.
• For some individuals, recovery is the ability to live a
fulfilling and productive life. For others, recovery implies
the reduction or complete remission of symptoms.
• Science has shown that having hope plays an
integral role in an individual's recovery.
I can't do anything for someone with
mental health needs
• Start with actions and vocabulary & nurture an environment
that builds on people's strengths and promotes good mental
• Avoid labeling people with words like "crazy," "wacko," "loony," or
by their diagnosis (instead of saying someone is a
"schizophrenic" say "a person with schizophrenia”).
• Learn the facts about mental health and share them with others,
especially if you hear something that is untrue.
• Treat people with mental illnesses with respect and dignity, as
you would anybody else.
• Respect the rights of people with mental illness and don't
discriminate against them when it comes to housing,
employment, or education.
Full Participant Inclusion In National
Service Organizations/Initiatives
Promising Practice
to participate fully in all aspects of
their community.
Jennifer Wayne Byerly
• AmeriCorps Alumni
• American Red Cross, Disaster Action Team Member (DAT), Big
Rivers Chapter
• Medical Reserve Corps
• Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)
• One of the first local American Red Cross members to selfidentify as a person with a disability
• First person with a mental health-related disability to serve as
consumer rep on the IN Dist. 10 Mental Health Response Team
• Trips, Inc. Chaperone for travelers who happen to have access &
functional needs.
• Parents, Northern Virginia days
• Our Hoosier Homestead farm
• SSDI, Ticket to Work Program, Indiana Vocational
Rehabilitation Consumer
• Currently a Certified Recovery Specialist at the
Rockport Engagement Center, and practicing
WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Program)
Rockport Engagement Center (REC)
• Assist citizens 18 & over who struggle with mental health
diagnoses to live, work, learn, and participate fully in the
• Increase consumer awareness and access to existing natural
support systems, including and IN (CRS)
• Emergency preparedness planning, policy making/advocacy
and servant leadership is taught/encouraged
• Funded by grant from Indiana Dept. of Mental Health and
• We empower people out of isolation and into wellness and
Jennifer Byerly Attended The 41st National Council
on Mental Health and Addictions Conference
San Diego, CA | May 2-4, 2011
• The experience of attending
profoundly affected me
• Because of the opening remarks
made by past U.S. President Bill
Clinton, the wisdom shared by
peer speaker Meghan Caughey,
and Journalist/Author Pete
Earley’s heart felt ideas
• New Freedom Commission on
Mental Health Vision Statement
What I Know for Sure…
• Recovery happens and treatment works
• All deserve to participate fully
• The use of peers to offer support at clinics, shelters, and other
venues only make efforts more effective
• Practice daily: WRAP, servant leadership, policy making,
advocacy, kindness
• Eliminate the illusion that only an elite group makes the
decisions: mandate consumers must sit on your advisory boards
• A CRS supports the recovery process in a way that enhances the
clinicians efforts (I augment the work of the psychologist, case
manager, social worker, etc.)
A New Face of Diversity: Veterans and
Returning Service Members
Veterans and Transitioning
Service Members
• Tend to possess an overall skill set that shows tremendous
benefit the civilian workforce:
accelerated learning curve
respect and honor - dedication and focus
loyalty and integrity (gets the job done)
works brilliantly under pressure
duty, selfless service, personal courage, and MORE
• Experience difficulty translating their military experience
into civilian language and terminology
• Often unsure about exposing their military history due to
societal stigma
Injured Returning Service Members
• More than 36,000 service members return with significant
physical injuries.
• Signature injuries of the current overseas conflicts are
• Nearly one in four report they might have experienced
a TBI, usually as the result of a roadside bomb. The
Pentagon estimates roughly 220,000 brain injuries since
the wars began.
• Nearly one in five veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan
wars is currently living with depression or stress
• When the Society for Human Resource Management surveyed
its members (June 2010), 46% said they believed posttraumatic stress and other mental health issues posed a
hiring challenge. Just 22% said the same about combatrelated physical disabilities.
• Although media attention has helped make the diagnosis and
treatment of PTSD and traumatic brain injury a government
priority, veterans say it has also contributed to the stigma
associated with these wounds.
• "They hear so many stories on the news — this soldier got
back from Iraq and killed his wife — which makes people a
little reluctant to hire you."
Potential Impact of a Brain Injury
Symptoms that result from TBI are known as post-concussion syndrome
(PCS). Few people will have all of the symptoms, but even one or two of
the symptoms can be unpleasant.
Feeling dizzy
Being tired
Trouble sleeping
Vision problems
Bothered by noise
and light
COGNITIVE (mental)
Memory problems
Trouble staying focused
Poor judgment &
Being slowed down
Trouble putting thoughts
into words
EMOTIONAL (feelings)
Anger outbursts/quick
to anger
Anxiety (fear, worry, or
feeling nervous)
Personality changes
Most people with a mTBI will be back to normal by 3 months without any special
treatment. Even patients with moderate or severe TBI can make remarkable
Examples of Accommodations for TBI
 Flexible scheduling, allow longer or more frequent work
 Provide additional time to learn new responsibilities
 Allow for use of job coaches
 Provide for job sharing opportunities
 Encourage the use daily ‘to-do’ lists and check items off as
they are completed
 Provide a special calendar to mark meetings and
 Assign a mentor to assist in determining goals and provide
daily guidance
 Provide written as well as verbal instructions
PTSD is a prolonged reaction to stress.
The recollection of a memory increases the stress for the moment and may cause a temporarily increased
response in the form of signs and symptoms.
*Signs and symptoms are generally not always as exaggerated as
what we see in the media.
Signs  Symptoms  Stressors
Signs and Symptoms
Potential Stressors/Triggers
An argument
Seeing a news article that reminds you of
your traumatic event
Watching a movie or television show that
reminds you of your traumatic event
Seeing a car accident
Certain smells
The end of a relationship
An anniversary
A specific place
Seeing someone who reminds you of
a person connected to your traumatic
Feeling lonely
Feeling abandoned
Feeling out of control
Feeling vulnerable
Racing heart beat
Pain or Muscle tension
Examples of Accommodations for PTSD
 Use a daily or weekly task list
 Reduce distractions in the work environment
 Allow the individual to play soothing music using a headset
 Divide large assignments into smaller goal-oriented tasks or
 Assign a supervisor, manager or mentor to answer
 Use stress management techniques to deal with frustration
 Allow telephone calls during work hours to doctors and
others for needed support
 Allow for a flexible start time or end time, or work from home
 Allow time off for counseling and medical appointments
Very Important!
 NOT all triggers are the same for each individual and more
importantly do not always trigger a reaction in that individual.
 The injuries related to military service (physical, psychological
health and cognitive) are “acquired injuries.” A Veteran may
simply need time to figure out what his or her mind and body
can do again.
 Every employee with a TBI or PTSD is an individual and
therefore a strategy you try with one individual may not work
with the next.
 You don’t need to have all of the answers! Trial and error is
often the best practice…for both the Veteran and the employer.
 Workplace supports and accommodations create a
welcoming and productive environment (for all employees).
Given The Choice
Given the choice between work and idleness, people
will almost always choose work.
Regardless of our station in life, the conditions of our
bodies and minds, or the amount of money in our bank
accounts, the need to work remains one of our strongest
drives. Work is central to our lives, and as such, gives a
large measure of structure to our days. Common sense
tells us that we feel better about ourselves when we are
working regularly.
- Robert E. Drake, M.D., Ph.D.
Job Accommodation Network (JAN)
National Resource Directory
Contact information
Jennifer Wayne Byerly
Lisa Stern
Indiana Certified peer
Recovery Specialist (CRS)
Rockport Engagement
Center (REC)
319 South Fifth St., #5
Rockport, IN 47635
Ph: (812) 649-9948
[email protected]
Workforce and Diversity
Stern Consulting, LLC
Sandy Spring, MD
301.237.1660 (mobile)
[email protected]

Inclusive Member Experiences for Individuals with Mental Health