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Careers, Confidence, and Community at Webster House

Vinfen’s Webster House proudly hosted a career development course for young adults called Helping Youth on the Path to Employment (HYPE). The course is led by the University of Massachusetts (UMASS) Medical School Department of Psychiatry Transitions to Adulthood Center for Research (Transitions ACR) in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health (DMH). The 12-week course, which is being offered across Massachusetts, is free, fun, and all about building confidence and skills on the path to achieving educational and career goals.

The course was open to all Webster House members and the surrounding community of young adults ages of 18-30 with lived experience of a mental health condition. Classes were held on Thursdays for three hours. Each participant was provided four individual coaching sessions throughout the 12 weeks. The also course is co-facilitated with a person with lived experience to provide peer support to participants. Currently, the course is being offered in Quincy, MA and is expanding to Springfield, MA in the next coming months.

Webster House members participated along with other young adults from the community. Clubhouse Member, Francia was one of the participants and shared how much she enjoyed her time with co-facilitators Amanda Costa and Rafe Mizrahi, both of whom work at UMASS’ Transitions ACR. Francia said she feels that the course has had a positive impact on her life, and that she has learned invaluable skills. “My favorite part of the course was learning the skills that can help me with school and work in the future,” she shared. Francia has been with Webster House for almost a year now and enjoys her time at the Clubhouse. “I feel like I have more of a routine with my life. It helps me structure my life in a way,” she added.

Originally developed by Michelle G. Mullen, HYPE was designed for practitioners to work one-on-one with young adults. However, over the last 15 years HYPE has transformed. HYPE is now offering course materials within community mental health programs, and is available in the state of Massachusetts for any young adult with lived experience who is interested in working toward school or work goals. “The ultimate goal of HYPE is to provide the necessary support so young adults can develop economically self-sufficient careers, and avoid poverty and long-term reliance on Social Security,” Michelle explained. Amanda couldn’t agree more. “HYPE essentially is the opportunity to provide combined supportive education and supportive employment to young adults with mental health conditions to help them improve their school and work goals and get into rewarding careers,” added Amanda. In fact, Webster House was the second group setting where this course was held thanks to the collaboration of Webster House Program Director Maggie Mahoney, DMH Project Director Heidi Holland, and UMASS’ Amanda and Rafe. “I think it was great holding the HYPE course here at Webster House because it offered our young adults another structured opportunity to focus in on exploring their employment and education goals. The instructors Amanda and Rafe were enthusiastic and engaging. I hope we can do it again soon. It would be great for all Clubs to hold a HYPE class!” Maggie commented.

Amanda really enjoyed her time at the Webster House. “The group we had was just a really eclectic group of young people from very different walks of life, so really just being able to connect them all to each other and build some of those relationships and connect them to resources in the Boston area was amazing,” voiced Amanda. She also remarked on how dedicated Francia was to the course and is excited to see what her future holds. “From the beginning she was so motivated and dedicated, and really invested in the work of HYPE. She really practiced everything we talked about, she did the home exercises, she came in and really kind of captained a lot of the skills we were trying to teach and brought them into her own career, and actually identified her goal of wanting to go into the medical field and was looking into a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) certificate.”

Amanda is passionate about this course and believes in the power of this experience for young adults. “As someone who has managed my own mental health experience, it is meaningful seeing other young people at this stage in their lives, and being able to help them grow and develop their school and work goals. I really struggled while I was in college with figuring out my next steps and having my own lived experience while also trying to be successful. Being able to kind of step in at the forefront of when young people are just trying to figure out their path and help them develop the skills that I had to learn is really a big passion for me.”

During the course, topics covered included goal development, strengths and needs assessments, information on conversational attention and task attention, interpersonal skills, exploring how to ask for what you need, verbal learning, the process of encoding information, the skill of note-taking, exploring accommodations and assistive technology at work and school, how to problem solve, and the importance of finding supports in one’s community. Each participant during the last week of the class was encouraged to solidify their career and educational goals as well as plan for the next steps they would like to take in the future. Amanda truly loves what she does. Those ah-ha moments where one understands the content in the course and experiences a confidence boost when connecting with skills, is what it is all about. She wants participants to know that they are worthy of taking time for themselves and taking these steps. She wants people to believe in themselves, have excitement for the future, and to embrace all of one’s abilities.

If you are interested in learning more about HYPE or would like to learn more on being a potential host for the course, please contact Amanda at