Featured letter We could all use a helping hand now and then

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Happy Mental Health Awareness Month. Yes, that's right: happy!

As a 28-year employee of the Community Support Program (CSP), which is part of Rock County's Behavioral Health Division, I am proud to support our program and the consumers that make it such a meaningful and rewarding experience. The CSP is an outpatient mental health program that serves individuals living with a variety of pervasive and persistent mental health issues, and our services are meant to help them live with as much fulfillment, meaning, and happiness as someone without a mental health diagnosis. We offer a range of services - from case management to housing assistance and psychosocial rehabilitation, among others - all with individual consumer needs and goals at the center of the treatment plan.

During my almost three decades with the CSP I have had the honor of working with an array of amazing people: consumers, coworkers, and community partners. My current role is as a social worker and vocational specialist, which means I am always looking for one of our consumers who may be interested in expanding their life through work. For our consumers, no job would be too small - a few hours here and there or a volunteer job would be an excellent start (but of course more hours are also welcome). When our consumerss are connected with an employer, we at the CSP provide support for them throughout their work endeavors. That means not only do our consumers have access to meaningful experiences, but the employers who support them are able to know their employees are being looked after.

Don't take it from me, though. Here is what an employer had to say about their experience with CSP clients: "I don't have words to describe what an experience it has been for me. I took them so they could have fun, something to look forward to, but it is even better than that. It's been one of the most beneficial, heartwarming experiences I've ever had."

And in the words of a client: "I want to be part of your team! I am a very hard worker, and I learn fast.I love to feel useful and productive, and want to continue being that way as long as I am able."

Our community is full of people who have shown their support for our consumers, from landlords like Matt Finnegan and Doug Cash who have been quite helpful to many of them, to employers like MacFarlane Pheasant Company in Janesville; and in Beloit, Walmart, Mr B's, and McDonald's. We thank you all!. Your continued support shows our consumers and the community that individuals living with mental illness are valued.

So, for those of you wondering how you can show your support this year during Mental Health Awareness Month, or at any time, consider helping us at CSP connect our consumers with employment or, if that is not possible, the next time you interact with someone with a mental illness, treat that person as your equal. We all could use a helping hand from time to time, and that help could come from you.

Rhonda Doherty

Beloit

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