SOAR Voices


Highland Rivers Health’s Economic Support and Recovery Services Integrates SOAR and Supported Employment to Enhance Opportunities for Individuals in Recovery

Juliet IfeobuBy Juliet Ifeobu, M.S.W., Program Manager for Economic Support and Recovery Services (SOAR/ Supported Employment) at Highland Rivers Health in Hiram, Georgia

Highland Rivers Health is one of Georgia’s 26 Community Service Boards – agencies designated by the state Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities as safety net providers of treatment services for individuals with mental illness, addictive disease, and intellectual and developmental disabilities. As an agency with recovery as our core mission, Highland Rivers’ services are designed to help support individuals in living as independently as possible in their community. A key component of independent living for individuals in recovery is finding and sustaining gainful employment in jobs that are a good match for their abilities, preferences, and interests.

Highland Rivers Health’s Economic Support and Recovery Services is a new program that integrates SOAR and Supported Employment services to help individuals determine their ideal balance of paid employment and disability benefits (if they are eligible) – and supports them in pursuing both. We understand recovery means different things for different people. By integrating these services, individuals are able to have their basic needs met while enhancing their economic independence, and always have the opportunity to explore employment as part of their recovery process.

The SOAR team at Highland Rivers is passionate about assisting individuals in obtaining their disability benefits. For many of the individuals we serve, disability benefits provide them the opportunity to secure affordable housing, and to pay for medication, medical care and self-care items. For those who have been homeless or otherwise challenged by housing insecurity, this can seem like a dream come true. But in addition to benefiting those in recovery on an individual level, having secure housing and being able to meet their basic care needs also makes them better positioned to work.

In order to ensure individuals are aware of all their choices as part of a self-directed recovery plan, we educate individuals in the SOAR program about work opportunities through the Supported Employment program, and encourage them to explore these options even after they receive their disability awards. For many, work is their next step in the recovery process and our Supported Employment program assists them in identifying and gaining competitive employment in their community.

Highland Rivers’ Supported Employment services are available to anyone in recovery, so even those who are not eligible for SOAR are referred for employment assistance if they desire to work. Individuals who have gotten jobs through the Supported Employment program consistently report their satisfaction with working and an enhanced feeling of independence.

By integrating SOAR and Supported Employment services into Economic Support and Recovery Services, Highland Rivers helps ensure team members work seamlessly to serve individuals in recovery, and individuals are offered appropriate and timely options for economic independence and community living.

The views, opinions, and content expressed in SOAR Voices do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or policies of the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors.