Fifty one employers attended this year’s Employment and Education Fair at CAMH– a record number in the history of the program.
“The fact that this many employers were willing to participate in the fair, we hope, indicates that businesses are recognizing and appreciating the talent and skillsets that people with mental health and addictions issues, like anyone else, bring to the workforce,” says Reena Sirohi, a Social Worker in CAMH’s Social Determinants of Health Service.
The Fair connects employers with clients looking to go back to school or get a job. Agencies such as Youth Employment Service and Toronto Workforce Innovation Group, the Toronto District School Board and other municipal services, large companies like Bell, TD Bank and Old Navy, social enterprises like A-Way Courier and Out of this World Café, advocacy groups like The Dream Team and academic institutions like York, Ryerson and U of T all attended, lending their voices to the growing dialogue around mental health in the workplace.
Over 50 employers were on hand to speak to clients about employment opportunities
CAMH client Johanna Brewster is planning to go back to school to study culinary arts. She said the CAMH job fair was “a good way to educate myself about the employment landscape.”
“I wanted to learn about the kinds of employers that would be here, to give me a perspective of what my choices are. Just seeing a (company) logo and representatives who are passionate about the company they work for – for them to connect with people such as myself – sends a strong message that I am someone who is capable of being accepted into a job. It’s great to be able to talk to the representatives in person.”
Education is key to better understanding workplace mental health
For Occupational Therapist (OT) Jenifer Kim, the CAMH Employment Fair is all about making important connections. “Old Navy was able to set up a group interview with seven client candidates, as they are in a busy hiring season. Basharat Food Services Ltd. collected several resumes and applications for openings at their various Tim Horton’s locations.” More importantly, “a number of clients and clinicians noted how they appreciated the varied representation of employers and organizations participating in the Fair.”
Some clients were successful in securing interviews from employers at the Fair
Being employed holds great meaning for Stacey Bowen.
It wasn’t that long ago that the former CAMH client was seeking the help of CAMH’s Employment Works! Service to help her get back on her feet during her recovery.
Today, Stacey works for The Dream Team, an advocacy group for affordable, supportive housing. They’ve set up a booth at the Fair, where Stacy cheerfully talks about the work they do.
“When your fellow peers see you on the other side of the table, it is an opportunity for them to be inspired, and it also gives them a sense of ‘You go girl, make us proud!’
It’s quite refreshing and exciting knowing where you came from as a client, then getting educated through the help of certain agencies. It shows that it's possible to fulfill your dreams and goals,” Stacey says.
Stacey catches up with Ann McDowell, a Community Ambassador at CAMH