People affected by schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other severe mental illnesses are probably one of the most economically disadvantaged groups in our society. An astounding 85-95% of persons with treatable severe, persistent mental illness are unemployed (according to a 1999
report by the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill). In sharp contrast, all participants at Tasks Unlimited are employed. It is part of an overarching philosophy to help people lead happier, more self-sufficient lives.
That’s why the Phillips Family Foundation awarded a $50,000 challenge grant to help Tasks launch their first major fundraising campaign Let the Secret Out. “At Tasks, everyone works. In fact, almost a third fully support themselves through their work,” said Tasks Executive Director John Trepp. “That’s why we provide the highest wages of any supported employment provider in the state.”
Tasks has a 30-year track record of success in helping people with severe mental illness (schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression) lead more fulfilling lives. “Employment does more than give all of us a sense of independence. It builds self-esteem,” said Trepp. “It’s no different for participants at Tasks. It gives them a chance to manage their lives with a new sense of confidence and willingness to try new things, volunteer, travel, and more.” Many participants live in Tasks’ family-style settings, called Lodges. Others live in apartments. They
manage the daily responsibilities of life on their own, yet have easy access to supported employment and housing as well as mental health professionals.
The Phillips Family Foundation makes grants that support self-sufficiency. “We are honored by this generous award from the Phillips Family Foundation,” said Trepp. “Because of this grant, we have the momentum we need for our first major fundraising effort.” New individual donors can now double the impact of their contributions, and help Tasks serve many more people. New funding will help provide more affordable housing, support for the aging,, and efficiency through technology.
Stigma, discrimination, homelessness, criminalization, social isolation, and poverty often mark the lives of people affected by serious mental illness. “These people are not strangers,” said Trepp. “They are our family members, friends, and co-workers. Every one of them deserves to lead a happy life, fully participating in our community. After three decades of success, we are well poised to expand our capabilities to help even more people.”
Information for this article provided by Tasks Unlimited