Legislation Aims to Help Minnesotans with Mental Illness

ST. PAUL, Minn. – On Monday the Senate Environment and Economic Development Committee heard emotional testimony about the power of a state program that helps persons with mental illness find employment. The current DEED-funded Individual Placement and Support (IPS) employment programs have a proven model of success in helping people with mental illness find meaningful work. Sen. David Tomassoni (DFL-Chisholm) is chief author of a bill that would allow this successful program to expand.

“More than half of Minnesota’s counties have no access to IPS services, and even in the Twin Cities, the program is underfunded and has a long waiting list of people who need help,” said Sen. Tomassoni. “We know that this program works through a combination of counseling, mental health treatment and job placement and training. The more Minnesotans who can have access to these services, the better.”

This legislation was heard in Tomassoni’s Senate Environment and Economic Development Committee on Monday, and may be included in an omnibus bill later this session. The bill calls for an investment of $2.5 million in 2016 and 2017, of this amount, $1.5 million each year would go toward expanding the program into areas that are currently without any similar services.

Minnesota currently has 15 types of IPS programs located in 40 counties across the state. The state’s unemployment rate for individuals receiving public services is a staggering 86 percent. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the programs are three times more likely to help people find employment than other vocational programs.

The Committee hearing also included speakers that have found meaningful employment through the IPS program. Committee members heard from a women with major depressive disorder who found work that she said gives her something to be proud of and gives her something to live for. It’s this sort of fulfillment that Tomassoni hopes can extend to other Minnesotans suffering from unemployment due to a mental illness.

Senator David Tomassoni
David Tomassoni represents District 6, which includes portions of Itasca and St. Louis counties in the northeastern part of the state.

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