Image by Doruk Yemenici

Environmental Awareness

Individuals with mental health conditions encounter social and systemic barriers to their career progress. While oppressive environments need to change, individuals with mental health conditions have had to learn to adapt to these social and systemic barriers. Environmental Awareness is an individual’s knowledge of these barriers and access to vocational supports. For an individual with mental health conditions, they may: 

  • Have limited knowledge of world of work from having been out of the workforce for a while 

  • Be less familiar with available resources and supports to benefit their career progress and mental health while working 

  • View available resources and supports as less useful due to past experiences of accessing supports 

  • Be aware of work-related inequities and discrimination but not know how to address them 

  • Need a plan to deal with disruptions that affect their careers can occur 

Based on the readiness phase of the Choose-Get-Keep model (Danley& Anthony, 1987; Farkas et al, 2000), Environmental Awareness can improve as individuals gain more practical knowledge about the world of work, become more attuned to the supports they have available to counter barriers, and view available supports as useful to their work life. Knowledge of the world of work can include familiarity with the job market, hiring practices, etc. but can also include knowledge of rights related to work-place discrimination, disability disclosure, paid time off, etc. Vocational supports include both practical and emotional supports. Attaining decent work is associated with an individual’s knowledge and awareness of the barriers they encounter, as well as their access to appropriate and overall support options. 

 

In CPF, the areas of Environmental Awareness that an individual can work on are identified as Knowledge of the World of Work, Empowerment, and Resource Appraisal.  

You can assess your Environmental Awareness by taking the Career Advancement Inventory. Descriptions of each stage and related resources are provided below

Resources for Improving Environmental Awareness

Career Detachment (21-40)

People who scored similarly are not sure what living with mental health condition and sustaining a decent work role entails.  

  • They are mostly unfamiliar with the world of work and may not be aware of available career services in their communities.  

  • They know at least one person who can help them. 

  • They have experience with systemic barriers (ex. stigma and discrimination) but do not know where to get help to address these issues.  

  • They may be afraid of or not know how to ask for help.   

Career Consideration (41-55)

People who scored similarly are beginning to learn what it will take to get and keep a decent work role as an individual living with a serious mental health condition.  

  • They may not be familiar with available career services or may not be sure how to access them.  

  • They do know at least one person who can help them and who encourages them to pursue work.  

  • They are building strong relationships with someone they can rely on to help them learn more about a career path of interest.  

  • They have some experience with systemic barriers (ex. stigma and discrimination) but do not know where to get help to address these issues when they arise.  

  • They are learning that having a strong support system is critical to making career progress; however, they may be afraid of or not know how to ask for help.   

Career Exploration (56-68)

People who scored similarly are learning what it takes to get a decent work role as an individual living with a serious mental health condition. 

  • They are familiar with available career services.  

  • They have a support system in place that helps them to make good career decisions and to address major systemic barriers.  

  • They know people they can rely on to help them with work concerns.  

  • They are interested in learning more about the world of work and increasing their work supports.  

Career Choice & Preparation (69-86)

People who scored similarly know what it takes to sustain a career as an individual living with a serious mental health condition.  

  • They are overcoming major challenges and building strong relationships with people who can help them with work or school difficulties.  

  • They have learned how to rely on the people they trust to help them advance their careers.  

  • They have gained some experience with systemic barriers (ex. stigma and discrimination) but are not always sure know how to get help to address these issues when they arise.  

  • They know that having a strong support system is essential to their career, even during times of success. 

  • They are usually not afraid or ashamed to ask for help.   

Career Establishment & Maintenance (87-105)

People who scored similarly know more than most about what it takes to sustain a career as an individual living with a serious mental health condition.  

  • They have overcome major challenges to maintain a network of individualized supports.  

  • They know their communities and the world of work well enough to know where to go and who to turn to when their mental health requires an adjustment or change in their work situation, such as requesting formal accommodations.  

  • They have considerable experience with systemic barriers (ex. stigma and discrimination) and know how to identify and address these issues when they arise.  

  • They know that having a strong support system is essential to their career, even during times of success. 

  • They are not afraid or ashamed to ask for help.