State Mental Health Workers Face Layoffs

LANSING (WWJ) – Several state workers who say they provide employment services to 1.5 million disabled Michiganders are fighting back against a plan to lay them off by the end of the month.

Pam Hyde, a mental health worker in Wayne County, says the Michigan Rehab Services counselors are essential. She calls the layoffs a “lose-lose.”

“We need more programs like MRS programs to help people with mental illness and disabilities,” Hyde told WWJ Newsradio 950. “Because they provide the tools necessary to be successful — not only the physical, tangible things, but they give them skill-building and self-confidence.”

Marsha Florence, also with MRS, said counselors work hand-in-hand with small businesses to help workers with disabilities. She said it’s not a job for just anyone.

“You have to be a unique-style person to work closely with persons with disabilities and provide the services and resources for the employers to understand how to work with a person with a disability,” she said.

Denny O’Shea, a grocery store manager in Jackson, said his business is a better place because of the MRS client he hired. “He did a great job. Actually, after a few days he didn’t even need to coach anymore. So, when his two weeks were up I decided to hire him — and he’s doing a great job,” O’Shea said.

The state says the 15 layoffs are needed to balance the budget.

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