Robin's Journey

Working through mental illness

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After graduating from the University of Kentucky, mental illness made it hard for Robin to keep a job.

Mental illnesses such as schizophrenia or bi-polar disorder interfere with a person’s confidence and ability to be self-sufficient. The average age of onset tends to be in the 20s, just as college-age individuals are preparing to start careers. Statistically, only 2% of Americans with severe and persistent mental illness are able to maintain their jobs. It's a population that some employers have yet to tap into because a stigma exists that those with mental illnesses are unreliable.

Robin came to the Center for Living and Learning for their one-of-a-kind job training. This United Way-funded vocational rehabilitation program explores each individual’s skills through vocational/life skill lessons, horticulture therapy, contract work with local companies, and other exploratory activities, while keeping open communication with the trainee’s therapists. Job-site development and certified employment support also help to make an employment match successful.

When Robin started her job with a cleaning company, she had many fears and challenges to overcome. After one year, she’s thriving.

Her boss values her job performance, and Robin’s received several bonuses.

“Hiring Robin allowed us to add to our existing contract with a local church, and they are really happy with her,” said Paul Quillman, co-owner of A Clean Franklin. “Her welcoming attitude towards visitors aligns with the church’s vision for their community outreach.”

“Working here helps with my self-esteem,” said Robin.

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