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Mentoring Matters: Career Development for the 21st Century

Disability Mentoring Day Logo

Observed each October as part of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), Disability Mentoring Day (DMD) promotes career exploration for students and job seekers with disabilities. DMD offers hands-on career exploration, on-sight job shadowing, and ongoing mentoring that can lead to internship and employment opportunities.

The American Association of People with Disabilities started Disability Mentoring Day in 1999 with fewer than three-dozen participants. Today, DMD connects nearly 20,000 job-seekers with employers and mentors who help students and job-seekers each year.

Along with the benefits for people with disabilities, disability mentoring also helps employers gain an increased awareness of a unique talent pool. As the need for innovation continues to grow in today’s economy, savvy employers realize that people with disabilities can be assets and diversity can be good for business.

With the recent changes to Section 503 regulations, federal contractors and subcontractors now face a national goal to increase workforce participation of persons with disabilities. As these companies are taking to steps to seek-out and hire qualified individuals with disabilities and support those already in their workforce, mentoring programs for people with disabilities can be another way to make workplaces more open, accessible and productive. 

If you, someone you know, or the company you work for would like to get involved in disability mentoring, email to find out more and get connected to resources in your area.


The Ticket to Work Team Raises Program Awareness

Social Security’s Ticket to Work team was busy this summer at conferences nationwide talking with current and potential beneficiaries, people interested in exploring their work options, parents and disability employment professionals about the Ticket to Work program.

In July, the team attended the 25th annual Association of People Supporting Employment First (APSE) National Conference in Long Beach, CA. APSE has advanced employment and self-sufficiency for people with disabilities through advocacy and education for 25 years, as it offers the only national conference focused solely on the advancement of integrated employment. The team presented, “Using Your Ticket to Work: Help on Your Journey to Financial Independence.” This covered TTW basics including eligibility and services available to Social security beneficiaries. Attendees also met “Ben,” the Beneficiary received a demo of our Find Help Tool, and heard an inspirational Success Story from Megan Riggs.

The team’s next stop was at the 8th Annual Project SEARCH conference in Omaha, NE. Since 1996, Project SEARCH has aimed to secure employment for people with disabilities, especially youth in transition. Joined by a Work Incentive Planning and Assistance (WIPA) project and Employment Network (EN) representative from Nebraska Easter Seals, they offered information on Ticket to Work program and Work Incentives. Many attendees expressed interest in getting to know more about the Work Incentive PASS (Plan to Achieve Self Support). PASS plans are for people who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and offer them an opportunity to set money aside for a work-related goal. Many beneficiaries, like Michele Boardman, have used PASS Plans to set aside money to purchase a car or pursue training or certifications. Learn more about the PASS plan, and talk to a service provider about the process for creating one.

In September, the team attended the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) conference in Washington, DC. NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to improving the lives of those affected by a mental illness. The team answered more than a hundred questions between the exhibit booth and presentation session. Many people asked questions including “how long can I work while keeping my benefits?” and “what will happen to my child’s healthcare?” If you or a family member have these same questions, learn about common Work Incentives, which are special Social Security rules that enable people to explore work while still receiving health care and cash benefits.


Today is World Mental Health Day

Did you know October 10th marks World Mental Health Day? Mental health issues are common, and without the right services, they can impact your ability to work. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness:

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  • One in four adults – approximately 61.5 million Americans – experience mental illness each year.
  • One in 17 – about 13.6 million – live with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, major depression or bipolar disorder.
  • Approximately 60 percent of adults, and almost one-half of youth ages 8 to 15 with a mental illness received no mental health services in the previous year.
  • Serious mental illness costs America $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year.

Sponsored by the World Federation for Mental Health and observed by the World Health Organization, World Mental Health Day champions global mental health education, awareness and advocacy. Each October thousands of supporters and many mental health organizations celebrate this awareness day to bring attention to mental illness and its effects on peoples’ lives worldwide.

On this 22rd World Mental Health Day, talk about mental health and explore support services for you or someone you know. It could be the first step to a healthier life and a fulfilling career


Help Yourself, Help Others: Get Screened for National Depression Screening Day

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Image: Courtesy of Screening for Mental Health

Depression is one of the most common forms of mental illness. In addition to affecting your everyday life, depression can impair your abilities on the job search or at work. Unfortunately, stigma and lack of awareness make it hard for many people to seek help.

That’s why October 9th is National Depression Screening Day (NDSD). Organizations across the country will participate in NDSD, which is a part of Mental Illness Awareness Week. Talking about mental health issues like depression reduces stigma and increases awareness of help that is available for people who need it.

Thousands of organizations nationwide host a NDSD event each year. The organizations, from hospitals and community organizations to government organizations and military installations, provide information about mood and anxiety disorders and offer screenings—in-person or online—to their community. After completing a screening, those who receive a positive score are given referral information to local agencies that offer further evaluation and treatment if needed.

Raising awareness of depression symptoms and spreading access to free screenings can help at-risk individuals find the mental health help they may need. Locate a screening site near you, or take a free, anonymous screening online.

Get screened today and spread the word. Stay informed about your mental health to feel your best at home, and be your best at work.


Register Now! National Work Incentives Seminar Event, Wednesday October 22

National Work Incentives Seminar Event (WISE) Webinar Ticket to Work: Support Services for People Who Have a Disability and Are Ready to Work

October 22 WISE webinar banner:woman sitting infront of a laptop

Wednesday, October 22, 2014, 3:00 PM, EDT 

If you are a Social Security disability beneficiary and want to make more money through work, Ticket to Work can provide the support you need to transition to financial independence.

The October 22 national WISE webinar will present information about special Social Security programs and rules that may apply to you! Disability benefits experts will teach you about:

  • Ticket to Work & Work Incentives
  • National Disability Employment Awareness Month and the value of mentorship
  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and where to find more information

Register online or call 1-866-968-7842 (V) or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY).


Be Disaster Aware: Take Action to Prepare

Emergencies can happen at any time. Your ability to recover from an emergency tomorrow may depend on the planning and preparation you do today. Will you be prepared?

Each September, sponsors National Preparedness Month, an awareness campaign to help Americans take steps to keep themselves safe. This year’s theme was "Be Disaster Aware, Take Action to Prepare.”

There’s no time like the present to take action to prepare for an emergency. Taking a few important steps can help you to be prepared if disaster strikes:


  1. Get Informed: Know what types of emergencies are likely to affect your area.
  2. Make a Plan: How will you connect with family? Will you stay put or relocate to a safer place? It’s important to know the answers to questions like these.
  3. Build a Kit: If you aren’t able to leave your home or work, you will need food, water, and supplies.

Preparing for an emergency is important for everyone, but for people with disabilities, older Americans and others with access or functional needs, having a plan even more crucial. Visit’s Guide to Emergency Preparedness & Disaster Recovery  for information specifically for people with disabilities.

This year, resolve to be ready. Take action to prepare!



Employment and Mental Illness: Steps along the Road to Recovery

By Dania Douglas, NAMI State Advocacy Manager

People living with mental illness are a diverse group with a wide range of talents, who can—and do—work in all segments of the U.S. economy. But they still often have problems in finding and keeping jobs. Each year one in four people in the United States is affected by mental illness. But even though it is common, mental illness still carries a stigma, and those living with it often face discrimination.

Work can be an important part of recovery. Work can provide a structure, a sense of purpose, income and benefits.  Despite this, people with mental illness are often unemployed or underemployed.  Almost 80 percent of the 7 million individuals in the public mental health system are unemployed, though studies show that at least 60 percent of them want to work.

The good news is that we know there are effective and innovative systems that have helped people with mental illness find and keep competitive employment. The bad news is that these systems are not widely available. Supported employment services are available to less than 2 percent of the people who need them.

In July, NAMI released Road to Recovery: Employment and Mental Illness, a report that explored these challenges and highlighted effective employment programs:


Walk to End Alzheimer's This September

The Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s is the largest national event aimed to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Held annually in all 50 states in more than 600 communities, this event rallies volunteers of all ages to become activists in the fight against Alzheimer’s.

You can help raise awareness by participating in a free local event near you!  

At the Walk events, you can learn more about Alzheimer’s disease and the support programs and services offered by your local Alzheimer’s Association chapter. You can also get involved with the cause through advocacy initiatives and clinical trial participation.

You can find a walk near you by visiting the Walk to End Alzheimer’s homepage and entering your zip code. 


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