Advocates of Abilene Receives Policy Grant from the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health
December 18, 2009
ABILENE – Finding a job can be an important step toward recovery for people with mental health conditions, yet many could risk losing essential disability income and health coverage by accepting employment without being informed about the impact on their benefits. Advocates of Abilene, Inc. plans to help reduce that risk for consumers in Texas with the help of a $60,799 grant from the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health. The organization will research state and federal employment policies that relate to disability benefits and produce educational materials in English and Spanish to explain the impact of employment on disability and low income benefits.
Lack of easily accessible information about the impact of employment on disability benefits has discouraged many people from seeking work and has caused others to unexpectedly lose basic benefits when they do work, according to Nancy Bailey, executive director of Advocates of Abilene.
"Meaningful work is important to wellness and recovery, and the fear of losing benefits should not keep consumers from having the hope that they can work again," Bailey said. "Our goal is to make this information accessible, accurate and encouraging for mental health consumers in Texas."
Advocates of Abilene will develop DVDs, written materials and educational software for local and statewide consumer groups, advocacy organizations, mental health providers, public service agencies, employers and policy makers. Bailey also plans to share information at conferences, meetings and events across Texas.
"Consumers and their families should be able to easily access information on how employment potentially impacts benefits. This information is essential to making informed decisions about matters affecting their livelihood and well-being," said Dr. Octavio N. Martinez, Jr., executive director of the Hogg Foundation. "We applaud Advocates of Abilene for identifying the problem and proposing a sound solution."
The information will clearly explain the potential effects of employment on all types of benefits available to mental health consumers in Texas, such as disability income, social security disability income, supplemental security insurance, Medicare and Medicare prescription insurance, Medicaid, housing and food stamps. The answer may vary for each consumer, depending on their situation.
Advocates of Abilene is one of four groups in Texas that received a total of $265,348 in policy project grants from the Hogg Foundation this month. The foundation awarded the grants to significant projects that will lead to better understanding and improvements in policies and processes that affect Texas consumers of mental health services.
The Hogg Foundation was founded in 1940 by the children of former Texas Governor James Hogg to promote improved mental health for the people of Texas. The foundation's grants and programs support mental health consumer services, research, policy analysis and public education projects in Texas. The foundation is part of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement at The University of Texas at Austin.
Contact for Advocates of Abilene: Nancy Bailey, executive director, (325) 676-1400