On September 16, SDWP program specialist Mario Becerra participated on a panel called “Barriers to Employment” at the Building Access to Leadership Careers for People with Lived Experience conference, organized by the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency and Live Well San Diego.
Becerra has 15 years of experience in social service, alcohol and drug counseling, and mental health services. In his current role at SDWP, he is responsible for collaborating with businesses, community stakeholders and behavioral health employment staff with the goal of strengthening partnerships and expanding employment opportunities for people with lived experience of mental health challenges. This work includes creating employment toolkits for employers and persons with lived experience, and convening employer socials, focus groups, and stigma trainings for employers.
“Regardless of a person’s individual challenges, we all possess leadership skills in our own right,” said Becerra. “And through acceptance and a stigma-free culture, we all benefit in the workforce.”
Also on the panel were Steven Jella, associate executive director of program and clinical services for San Diego Youth Services, and Linda Richardson, licensed clinical psychologist and registered nurse.
The keynote speaker was Eduardo Vega, president and CEO of the Mental Health Association of San Francisco, and former Governnor Schwarzeneggar-appointed member of the California Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission.
The conference took place just ahead of the Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). Observed each October, NDEAM celebrates the contributions of workers with disabilities and educates about the value of a diverse workforce inclusive of their skills and talents. The theme this year is #InclusionWorks.
“By fostering a culture that embraces individual differences, including disabilities, businesses profit by having a wider variety of tools to confront challenges,” said Jennifer Sheehy, deputy assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy. “Our nation’s most successful companies proudly make inclusion a core value. They know that inclusion works. It works for workers, it works for employers, it works for opportunity, and it works for innovation.”
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