In observation of King County’s Disability Awareness Month, we would like to highlight a success story in progress …and an employer who is taking steps to ensure a more inclusive and diverse workforce that recognizes the professional contributions of individuals with behavioral health disabilities.
Nick is an Inventory Specialist at Amazon who ensures that multiple Amazon locations are fully stocked with supplies for his hard-working colleagues. He recently celebrated nine months as a full time Amazonian, and has received praise from his supervisors.
Nick moved to Seattle in 2006, looking for a better life. “I didn’t know resources or how to get around. I finally ended up in a shelter and living on food bank donations.” At one point, Nick ended up in the hospital, and his search for employment became even more difficult.
He then connected with the King County Behavioral Health and Recovery Division (BHRD), and enrolled in BHRD’s Supported Employment Program (SEP). This program helps individuals with behavioral health disorders, including mental illness and substance use disorders, either enter or re-enter the workforce.
This is accomplished with the assistance and support of employment specialists and an integrated team of professionals, including prescribers, therapists, case managers, housing providers and substance use disorder providers.
Through BHRD’s SEP – and their partnership with Northwest Center and Amazon – Nick gained employment. Today, he reports that having ongoing support during his initial stage of re-entering the workforce has changed his life for the better. “I think my confidence has grown. I’ve gotten into the routine of working. Before, I couldn’t afford things that I saw. Now I see things and I can afford to buy them because of my job. I bought a smart phone with money I earned from working. Amazon and the (supported employment) program helps people get back on their feet to where they can survive.” Nick tells others with behavioral health disabilities, “Keep trying. Don’t get discouraged. Keep trying until you can describe what you’re looking for to an employer. It’s worth it!”