Phone: (607) 771-8888 Fax: (607) 771-8892

Local Business Advisory Council

The Local Business Advisory Council is designed to connect job seekers with employment appropriate for their skills, abilities and ambitions. MHAST has partnered with local diversity and disability experts to remove the preconceived notions that they may have regarding hiring people with disabilities. Through events such as Human Resource Round tables, we have been able to exchange information between potential employers and employees with disabilities. This provides us with the ideal forum to discuss the perceived obstacles and to provide information about how to navigate through those obstacles.

Overview of the LBAC

The MHAST’s Local Business Advisory Council (LBAC) is a MHANYS-funded Consumer and Business Outreach Program. Members include employers, diversity and disability experts, and job seekers interested in improving the mental health and overall wellness of the local workforce. All agree that employee diversity is an asset and that understanding is essential to building strong and respectful workplace relationships. The LBAC gives employers access to motivated job seekers who are prepared for dedicated service to health-conscious companies.

Employers

Mental Illness and Employment

85 percent of individuals with severe mental illness are unemployed but most retain useful skills and valuable knowledge

  • Working has social and cognitive benefits that actively promote recovery from mental illness
  • Finding or creating meaningful jobs and volunteer opportunities for individuals with mental illness is necessary for the overall wellbeing of the community

Diversity Optimizes Productivity

A diverse workforce is able to respond to challenges by drawing on the various strengths of its members. Unique employee viewpoints maximize an organization’s problem solving resources, which can ultimately lead to increased profits. Individuals with disabilities are often praised for their creativity, resourcefulness, and dedication.

Accommodating Diversity

The capacity to accommodate all disabilities requires commitment and training, but the funding needed to provide accommodations is often quite modest. The willingness to make appropriate workplace modifications will greatly improve worker comfort and overall functionality. Similarly, promoting the skills and etiquette necessary for polite interaction with individuals with disabilities will improve employee and customer relations.

LBAC Membership Benefits

Businesses will have access to the following when they join the MHAST’s LBAC:

  • Printed and electronic materials for use in workforce diversity competence training
  • Seminars, conferences, and training sessions led by regional disability experts
  • Consultations on maximizing the “mental health friendliness” of the business environment for both workers and patrons
  • Access to pools of qualified job seekers
  • A forum for discussing employment issues with other businesses

Job Seekers

The Benefits of Employment

Individuals with mental illness should consider working or volunteering as part of their recovery process because of the potential benefits.

Social Benefits of Working/Volunteering:

  • Allows one to regain or retain interpersonal communication skills
  • Provides an additional social outlet, which decreases isolation
  • Coworkers can offer additional support

Cognitive Benefits of Working/Volunteering

A diverse workforce is able to respond to challenges by drawing on the various strengths of its members. Unique employee viewpoints maximize an organization’s problem solving resources, which can ultimately lead to increased profits. Individuals with disabilities are often praised for their creativity, resourcefulness, and dedication.

  • Distracts the mind from unhealthy or unwanted thoughts
  • Increases feelings of self worth and self esteem
  • Improves memory and focusing abilities
  • Enhances time management skills
  • Allows for symptom control

Financial Benefits of Working

  • Increased financial independence
  • Improved quality of life

Mental Health and Employment

Job situations can often be frustrating. Seeking assistance with workplace issues from mental health professionals, trusted peers, and occupational superiors is not a sign of weakness or an inability to cope with job demands. Instead, these actions are proven ways to defuse workplace tensions before they become too serious. LBAC members recognize that preventive measures, ongoing mental health maintenance practices, and early intervention strategies are essential to mental wellness and resiliency in the workplace.

Working Toward Employment

  1. Evaluate interests, abilities, and goals. Be realistic. If working is not feasible, consider volunteering.
  2. Learn how to manage government benefits while working. LBAC members are available as educational resources.
  3. Maintain relationships with mental health support services after becoming employed. Do not hesitate to ask for assistance if it is needed.

If you are ready to work or volunteer, need help starting the employment process, or want support or advice, contact the MHAST at (607) 771 8888.